Report reveals Australia’s stingiest state for public transport

Tasmania has the lowest per capita spending on public transport in Australia, according to a report from a public policy think tank which describes the state’s network as a “system in disrepair”.

As well as suffering from a lack of equitable services and poor planning, the system is also plagued with poor driver retention, low wages and unacceptable levels of abuse, harrassment and violence against drivers, the McKell Institute report released this month says.

For 2023–23 Tasmania’s per capita public transport expenditure is projected to be just $115, compared to $218 in SA, $610 in Victoria, $653 in WA, $702 in Queensland, $117 in the Northern Territory and $492 in the ACT.

A Better Deal: fixing Tasmania’s broken public transport system (McKell Institute)

It also spends the second lowest proportion of its budget on public transport. For 2023–24, only 0.94 per cent of the budget will be spent on public transport services, compared to 2.22 per cent in SA, 4.69 per cent in Victoria, 5.45 per cent in WA, 5.13 per cent in Queensland and 2.98 per cent in the ACT. Only the Northern Territory, with 0.41 per cent, spends less.

“Tasmania’s public transport network was once among the most advanced in the southern hemisphere, but it now ranks among the least advanced in Australia alone,” the report says.

“On a per capita basis, the Tasmanian Government contributes the least of any jurisdiction in Australia towards routine public transport services, and the second lowest proportion of its state budget.”

No meaningful investment in decades

It also says that apart from some “tinkering around the edges of the existing bus network”, Tasmania hasn’t seen any meaningful investments in public transport in decades.

“This comes as mainland states and capital cities, including those of comparable population to Hobart, make significant steps towards expanding their public transport networks.”

The report says the Apple Isle has seen services stripped and patronage and quality plummet.

The state’s  public transport currently consists of a single bus network, MetroTas, which operates services throughout greater Hobart’s five local government areas, as well as the cities of Launceston and Burnie.

All other buses across Tasmania are privately operated.

According the report, public transport in Hobart now represents only four per cent of all kilometres travelled, despite once having been a crucial element of the city’s transport profile with levels similar to Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide.

The report recommends some “simple tweaks” to help make the network more efficient, equitable and a more preferable choice for commuters.

These include planning bus services around disadvantaged areas, increasing protection for drivers, prioritising transit-friendly infrastructure like bus lanes, and giving the government greater control over planning and delivery of services.

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2 thoughts on “Report reveals Australia’s stingiest state for public transport

  1. Of all the mainland States, South Australia requires the same title, only 2.22% of the State Budget. SA has no regional rail services but subsidises regional bus and coach services which due to funding provide a minimal service to the public. A number of Adelaide metro train services stop halfway to where the intended terminus should be extended to, bus franchised operators due to political ideology are required to serve an area with one bus whereas previous the service would have been in operation with two or more, not because of patronage but purely on cost cutting grounds.

  2. and you read the report from NSW in 2022 and you find that NSW is way above the whole lot. …..time to take some GST monies away from the east coast.

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