Sydney’s public transport patronage surged during a recent fare-free initiative, with more than 13.2 million trips taken across the city over a 12-day period – a daily average of more than 1.1 million trips.
Data from Transport for New South Wales (TfNSW) confirmed that ferries were one of the most popular options during the scheme, which ran from 14-26 April and coincided with the Easter and Anzac Day holidays.
Ferry boardings in the Manly and Parramatta neighbourhoods were up by 64 percent and 34 percent respectively, compared with Easter last year.
“It was great to see the network busier than it has been for over two years, and I think that a lot of people were reminded of how great public transport can be for getting around Greater Sydney,” said TfNSW Chief Operations Officer Howard Collins.
The scheme was part of an agreement to end a long-running dispute between the New South Wales (NSW) government and the state’s rail union over pay and workplace conditions.
In February, the dispute resulted in the state government ordering the shutdown of Sydney’s trains, leaving thousands of commuters stranded over a 24-hour period.
The Rail, Tram and Bus Union (RTBU) had threatened to take weekly industrial action to force the government to offer fare-free Fridays to commuters until the end of June to compensate for the February shutdown.
New South Wales Minister for Transport and Veterans David Elliott said: “I’d like to thank everyone who got out and about on the public transport network over the past 12 days.
“The feedback I’ve received from locals, businesses and officials has been overwhelmingly positive, and I think this has been a fantastic outcome for Greater Sydney as we put Covid-19 in the rear-view mirror and remember all there is on offer in this great city and state of ours.”
E-scooters may soon be available on Sydney’s streets after the state government announced a trial of the devices will be brought forward.
Rob Stokes, Infrastructure, Cities and Active Transport Minister, New South Wales, wants a three-month trial to launch in the state in July, saying e-scooters are an “affordable, convenient and sustainable method of moving about”.
“It’s important we harness that and recognise their increasing popularity around the world in a safe way,” Stokes said.
E-scooters are currently banned in NSW but are permitted in Victoria, the Australian Capital Territory, the Northern Territory and Tasmania.
“NSW has been criticised for being a bit of the laggard in taking on this technology but these are the benefits that we get to see the mistakes and successes other jurisdictions have faced,” Stokes added.
Local councils will be able to submit an expression of interest to trial the devices as part of a shared public scheme.
Image: BeauGiles (Flickr)
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