#Roads & Transport
Queensland State Government

Extracted from the Courier Mail
Patrick Lion
October 17, 2009 12:00am

Rail fares up, but free passes safe for fat cats

HUNDREDS of former Queensland Rail fat cats and current and former politicians and their partners will continue to receive free rail travel while everyone else is hit with massive public transport fare rises.

The Bligh Government insists the doubling of go card fares over the next five years is required to reduce taxpayer subsidies of public transport.

But the taxpayer-funded first-class long-haul Traveltrain passes for a privileged few have been quarantined from belt-tightening.

More than 60 former QR executives and 177 current and former MPs and their spouses have lifetime gold passes, including luxury sleeping berths on long-haul QR services.

Taxpayers forked out more than $88,000 for the largesse over the past two years.

Transport Minister Rachel Nolan, who admits she used the free passes before entering Cabinet, declined to comment.

The public transport fare rises are part of a major new public transport strategy – revealed by The Courier-Mail on Thursday – which will end paper ticketing next year and push all commuters on to the hi-tech plastic go cards.

The Government has insisted the fare rises are necessary to wind back public transport subsidies and to direct money towards improving services.

The rises, starting with a 20 per cent hike for go cards and a 40 per cent jump for paper tickets in January, will reduce the subsidy from 75¢ in the dollar to only 70¢ by 2014.

Prices will increase by 15 per cent in following years.

But in the past two years, the MPs and their partners each spent an average of $209 a year using their free rail passes, while former QR executives and their spouses racked up an average of $116 each.

While QR insists executive general managers have not received the gold passes since 2007, the government-owned corporation also allows free rail travel to employees with 25 years' service and their families.

Acting Premier Paul Lucas defended the rises this week, insisting 30 per cent of the true cost was not an unreasonable amount for people to pay.

Sick of overcrowded trains, not getting a standing position, (don't even try for a seat), trains breaking down, trains running late, having to catch the next train because the one you want to get on is dangerously overcrowded? Missing your stop because by the time you push your way to the door through the crowded isles the station master has blown the whistle and the train is moving on?

If you live on the Northern side of Brisbane and catch the Caboolture to City morning trains you would have experienced all the above.

I call upon you to sign this petition to stop the outrageous increase in fares, while Bligh Government fat cats get richer at our expense.

GoPetition respects your privacy.

The Stop the 40% Fare Increase for Qld rail passengers petition to Queensland State Government was written by Robert Bousamra and is in the category Roads & Transport at GoPetition.