THE Regional Seniors Travel Card offers older people in the country $250 for travel expenses in an attempt to bridge the gap between country and city seniors’ access to public transport but is it enough?
In NSW, people with a Seniors card or a Pensioner card can access the Gold Opal Card which allows for unlimited travel on the NSW public transport network, including bus, train and public ferries for a maximum of $2.50 a day. In the country it’s not as simple.
For local regional bus rides, Senior and Pensioner card holders can use the Regional Excursion Daily (RED) ticket. The RED ticket allows for unlimited local daily bus travel for $2.50.
For travel between regional areas in NSW on either a train or coach, Senior and Pensioner card holders can access the Country Pensioner Excursion (CPE) ticket. This ticket is intended to offer cheap regional travel for older people, so it cannot be used for travel through areas such as Sydney, Wollongong, Newcastle or the Blue Mountains as these areas use NSW TrainkLink Intercity or Sydney Trains. If a regional senior or pensioner would like to travel to these areas, they are entitled to a half-fare ticket, although better than full price a half-fare will cost a lot more than $2.50.
Pensioners can also access Pensioner Travel Vouchers for free travel on regional services plus a metropolitan service so long as it is used to travel to or from your regional service and all services are booked at the same time. Each pensioner is entitled to four one-way or two return trips each year. If you haven’t previously used the vouchers call 13 22 32 to register your concession card.
Although there are several discounts on offer for country pensioners and seniors, are they enough to match the mighty Gold Opal Card? Although it depends on the individual, considering the fewer services and different charges for different transport services, even with the Regional Seniors Travel Card, country public transport patrons are generally worse off. Equity can only be reached if the Gold Opal Card is rolled out state-wide with no differences between metropolitan and country services.
Let your local State MP know that you would like to see transport equity installed by rolling out Opal services to the country.