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Ask RiotACT: Should school bus travel be free?

By greenman - 23 June 2016 36

Ask RiotACT

Can someone please enlighten me as to why school bus travel is not free in the ACT? A colleague who resides in Qbn and was born in Sydney informs me she never paid for bus travel to and from school in Sydney – and her son gets free daily bus travel each day from Qbn to his school in the ACT? I am of the opinion that is should be free for ACT school kids and their parents as well. Thoughts?  I think the ACT is behind the times on this – and a poll should be started on this…

We’ve added a poll to this Ask RiotACT as requested …

Should children's bus travel to and from school be free in the ACT?

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36 Responses to
Ask RiotACT: Should school bus travel be free?
Maya123 6:24 pm 23 Jun 16

Arthur Davies said :

Mordd / Chris Richards said :

NSW and ACT public transport are totally different – yes, it is free for kids in Queanbeyan to catch a bus to school on Qcity buses (formerly Deane’s), but prices are staggered by distance and to go from Queanbeyan to Canberra hovers around the $8 mark. It’s all a matter of averages. It’s also not so bad to charge students $1.50 to go to school using a MyWay card, it’s about what would be spent on petrol anyway.

ACTION did trial free student travel during the 1990s, not sure why it didn’t last.

Would it be $1.50 for a child on MyWay? As a senior I pay less than that (about 78 cents off peak) and I would have though children would be similar.
I voted above that there should be a fee in the ACT, but that is rather simplistic. I think the bus fare should be paid for when the local school is being bypassed for another school across town, as that’s choice, not necessary, but any children living more remotely and needing to get to school, such as children on farms, should get free travel. As a child I was boarded on a farm for a few months and I caught the school bus, but I don’t know if my parents paid for that or not. However, we were bused to the nearest school and there was no picking and choosing, which is often the reason in Canberra why children catch buses. I was fortunate, as I was only a few kms form town and only needed to catch the bus between about 8 and 8.30am. Many children came from 50kms or more away and had about two hours travel to and from school.

Re: the pricing, I believe that MyWay is about $1.50 for a concession rate during peak hours, perhaps a bit cheaper (~$1.20) for a student on weekdays. Last I checked, the concession rate dropped to about 85c during off-peak times.

If children are the same price as seniors, it’s 78 cents off peak and $1.41 peak. I just checked my last bus trips on MyWay. I top it up with BPay. If you top it up with credit card I think the bus fares are higher.

madelini 4:13 pm 23 Jun 16

Arthur Davies said :

Mordd / Chris Richards said :

NSW and ACT public transport are totally different – yes, it is free for kids in Queanbeyan to catch a bus to school on Qcity buses (formerly Deane’s), but prices are staggered by distance and to go from Queanbeyan to Canberra hovers around the $8 mark. It’s all a matter of averages. It’s also not so bad to charge students $1.50 to go to school using a MyWay card, it’s about what would be spent on petrol anyway.

ACTION did trial free student travel during the 1990s, not sure why it didn’t last.

Would it be $1.50 for a child on MyWay? As a senior I pay less than that (about 78 cents off peak) and I would have though children would be similar.
I voted above that there should be a fee in the ACT, but that is rather simplistic. I think the bus fare should be paid for when the local school is being bypassed for another school across town, as that’s choice, not necessary, but any children living more remotely and needing to get to school, such as children on farms, should get free travel. As a child I was boarded on a farm for a few months and I caught the school bus, but I don’t know if my parents paid for that or not. However, we were bused to the nearest school and there was no picking and choosing, which is often the reason in Canberra why children catch buses. I was fortunate, as I was only a few kms form town and only needed to catch the bus between about 8 and 8.30am. Many children came from 50kms or more away and had about two hours travel to and from school.

Re: the pricing, I believe that MyWay is about $1.50 for a concession rate during peak hours, perhaps a bit cheaper (~$1.20) for a student on weekdays. Last I checked, the concession rate dropped to about 85c during off-peak times.

dungfungus 4:03 pm 23 Jun 16

Why said :

It’s free for those on a pension and have kids living a certain distance from the school.

No wonder the buses avoid Oaks Estate.

Zan 3:32 pm 23 Jun 16

In the 1950s I had to pay a penny from school.

searcher3489 3:08 pm 23 Jun 16

gazket said :

I would support free bus rides for everyone, not just school kids. The bus network costs something like $120m a year. They get about $20m in ticket sales. We’re already subsidising the nearly 85% of the cost. May as well go the whole hog and make it free.

I agree though how would they do analytics?
It would also be a saving in the needing tech to process tickets. But would their be a drop in business for businesses that sell my way top ups?

It won’t make a difference, the kids will still need to get a MyWay card, what happens if they need to catch a bus on the weekend? The concessions can be adjusted to allow fares to be free during the week and charge during the weekends and still collect the analytics necessary, I highly doubt that businesses are betting their existence on having MyWay terminals, remember people don’t have to top up at MyWay Recharge Agents at the moment, they can do it online via credit card and arrange direct debit from a bank account so your assertion here is pretty thin.

searcher3489 3:04 pm 23 Jun 16

Why said :

It’s free for those on a pension and have kids living a certain distance from the school.

Yes this is true and there is also a program for children with disabilities that need specialised transport to school as well.

Look the reality is it’s cheaper to pay for the bus fare than the cost of petrol and time wasted rushing to drop the kids off at school on the way to work. $1.50 a trip (so $3 a day) and this is a discounted rate, is a fair price to pay, MyWay cards can be set up with direct debits so that parents can put say $20 a week onto the card.
If you want to pay a bit more in rates or a levy to cover the cost of free bus rides to schools, because that would be the trade off, there is a way to change the student concession to make the fare free but the kids still have to tap on and tap off. I don’t think the ACT Government is convinced that free bus travel to and from school is a realistic option though..I wonder what Alistair Coe thinks?

pink little birdie 1:38 pm 23 Jun 16

I would support free bus rides for everyone, not just school kids. The bus network costs something like $120m a year. They get about $20m in ticket sales. We’re already subsidising the nearly 85% of the cost. May as well go the whole hog and make it free.

I agree though how would they do analytics?
It would also be a saving in the needing tech to process tickets. But would their be a drop in business for businesses that sell my way top ups?

pink little birdie 1:35 pm 23 Jun 16

If you lived more than 5 km from your school it was free in 2001 and 2002 (college -Kambah to Lake Tuggeranong). You got school term tickets and it was free travel on all buses weekdays 6am-6pm.
Often though it would be hard because particularly for years 11 and 12 at public schools there are very few specific school services as the schools are located in major centres

madelini 12:02 pm 23 Jun 16

Canberrans are SO accepting of this kind of issue – something which the ACT is way behind on – school bus travel is in fact free in most major world cities –
$1.50 for a school bus trip ? $3 a day – $15 a week – it adds up over the year, make that years – if there is six years of high school. if you have a few kids it is a hit to the wallet.

Well… you don’t have kids thinking that they will be a cheap investment.

If you’re driving them, you’re spending lots of money on petrol anyway. I don’t believe that the current student bus costs are prohibitive, all things considered. ACTION also caps the MyWay fares at 30 paid trips per month, so if your kids are catching the bus to and from school each day, that’s approximately one week of each month that they get for free anyway.

greenman 11:40 am 23 Jun 16

Canberrans are SO accepting of this kind of issue – something which the ACT is way behind on – school bus travel is in fact free in most major world cities –
$1.50 for a school bus trip ? $3 a day – $15 a week – it adds up over the year, make that years – if there is six years of high school. if you have a few kids it is a hit to the wallet.

I have relatives in Melbourne – and guess what ? FREE (see below) – 70’000 kids each day travel free !

{The School Bus Program is an extensive school bus network that provides travel at no cost to eligible students attending government and non-government schools and living in rural and regional Victoria.
The school bus network is administered by Public Transport Victoria (PTV) and carries over 70,000 students each school day on approximately 1,500 school bus routes}.

Mysteryman 10:58 am 23 Jun 16

I would support free bus rides for everyone, not just school kids. The bus network costs something like $120m a year. They get about $20m in ticket sales. We’re already subsidising the nearly 85% of the cost. May as well go the whole hog and make it free.

Maya123 10:47 am 23 Jun 16

Mordd / Chris Richards said :

NSW and ACT public transport are totally different – yes, it is free for kids in Queanbeyan to catch a bus to school on Qcity buses (formerly Deane’s), but prices are staggered by distance and to go from Queanbeyan to Canberra hovers around the $8 mark. It’s all a matter of averages. It’s also not so bad to charge students $1.50 to go to school using a MyWay card, it’s about what would be spent on petrol anyway.

ACTION did trial free student travel during the 1990s, not sure why it didn’t last.

Would it be $1.50 for a child on MyWay? As a senior I pay less than that (about 78 cents off peak) and I would have though children would be similar.
I voted above that there should be a fee in the ACT, but that is rather simplistic. I think the bus fare should be paid for when the local school is being bypassed for another school across town, as that’s choice, not necessary, but any children living more remotely and needing to get to school, such as children on farms, should get free travel. As a child I was boarded on a farm for a few months and I caught the school bus, but I don’t know if my parents paid for that or not. However, we were bused to the nearest school and there was no picking and choosing, which is often the reason in Canberra why children catch buses. I was fortunate, as I was only a few kms form town and only needed to catch the bus between about 8 and 8.30am. Many children came from 50kms or more away and had about two hours travel to and from school.

A_Cog 10:38 am 23 Jun 16

Yes it should be free.

Buses can take up to 45 cars ferrying kids off Canberra roads during morning peak hour. Reduced congestion.

Car reductions help the ACT realise its emissions strategy. Reduced emissions.

Free buses ensure equality of opportunity and help address attendance. Reduced disadvantage.

Genie 10:30 am 23 Jun 16

It’s free for those on a pension and have kids living a certain distance from the school.

madelini 10:02 am 23 Jun 16

NSW and ACT public transport are totally different – yes, it is free for kids in Queanbeyan to catch a bus to school on Qcity buses (formerly Deane’s), but prices are staggered by distance and to go from Queanbeyan to Canberra hovers around the $8 mark. It’s all a matter of averages. It’s also not so bad to charge students $1.50 to go to school using a MyWay card, it’s about what would be spent on petrol anyway.

ACTION did trial free student travel during the 1990s, not sure why it didn’t last.

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