Cheaper travel to and from Melbourne

Welcome: Commuters will hope to see more VLocity trains on the Gippsland Line in 2023. file photograph

STEFAN BRADLEY

By STEFAN BRADLEY

CAPPED V/Line fares will allow Gippsland residents and visitors a cheaper ride to-and-from Melbourne and around the state when they come into effect on March 31.

Premier Daniel Andrews also confirmed that Victoria’s public transport ticketing system would likely be overhauled this year to allow patrons to access services with a credit card or smartphone, rather than relying on a Myki card.

Labor took the cheaper V/Line fares policy to the November state election, which also included extra weekend V/Line services. The capped fee means the maximum adult full-fare on V/Line will cost no more than $9.80, the same rate as commuters using train services in Melbourne.

Currently, regional fares are calculated based on distance travelled.

Under the policy, regional fees will be capped, with a $68.80 daily peak full-fare from Bendigo reduced to $9.80, which is the cost of a full-fare Zone 1 + 2 trip in Melbourne.

The concession charge of $4.60 in Melbourne would also be matched.

A return trip from Sale to Southern Cross on the V/Line is currently $62, or $31 with concession, which would be reduced to $9.80 full-fare or $4.60 concession.

The reduction to a $9.20 daily full-fare would also apply to a return full-fare from Bairnsdale ($78.80), Traralgon ($64.40) and Warragul ($36.80).

Regional commuters who use a Myki Pass to travel between 28 and 365 days a year, will also be capped at the Melbourne rate, currently $5.52 per day.

Public Transport Minister, Ben Carroll, said last year that regional stations using paper tickets would be put on the Myki system in March. Many regional stations use Myki, but patrons boarding stations such as Sale have had to resort to paper tickets.

The contract with Japanese company NTT Data for the Myki card expires in November, and a tender process is underway. Mr Andrews last week suggested at a news conference in Melbourne that an upgrade may be needed.

“We are very keen to see the best technology employed so that using a world-class public transport system is as easy and convenient as possible,” Mr Andrews said.

Lower fares and potentially a new ticketing system can encourage more patronage. During the election campaign, the state government pledged to deliver nearly 200 extra weekend services on the regional network, with an investment of $207 million. On the Gippsland Line, this will mean trains every 40 minutes to Traralgon – 8am to 9pm on weekends; and extending the Sunday service to Bairnsdale, which currently terminates at Sale.

Planning is underway for a staged introduction of these extra services, starting from 2024. A number of daytime, weekend and long-distance services currently have spare capacity that will help absorb an increase in patronage.

The Department of Transport and Planning is working through demand modelling of what the likely impact of the fare change will be and if additional services will be required.