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Derwent Ferries Should Stay Free

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Tuesday, 5 July 2022

Tags: Public Transport, Ferries, Metro Tasmania, Cost of Living

Cassy O’Connor MP | Greens Leader 

The decision to charge all passengers for using the Derwent ferry service is a backward step for greater Hobart commuters.

The re-introduction of a public ferry on the Derwent has been warmly welcomed by locals. It’s been fantastic to see such a positive community response to this service. It’s disappointing, however, that rather than embracing the current model’s success, Minister Ferguson wants to begin charging all ferry users. 

With soaring cost of living, governments at all levels need to be doing what everything they can to support the community and stimulate local economy by making it easier for people to get around. This was the rationale for the government to give Tasmanians free bus travel for a month in March. 

Of Metro Tasmania’s $60 million in revenue, only $10 million is achieved through fares. The majority of their funding already comes from State Government Grants. It would not be a significant additional burden to the State to make all fares free, and it would have significant public benefit.

Given the financial hardship being felt by so many Tasmanians, the Liberals could make all public transport permanently free if they changed their priorities.

The government is trying to justify ferry fares as crucial for its viability. The cost of running this service for free, however, is tiny in comparison with the bloated annual roads budget. 

It is all about government priorities. In a cost of living crisis, a responsible government should be putting people before bitumen. 

If the Liberals are serious about reducing traffic congestion, and encouraging more commuters to take to the Derwent, they should keep the ferries free. 

If the Rockliff Government really wants to ease pressure in a cost of living crisis, they should make all public transport free.