Free buses prove popular

LOCALS who travel by bus from the Sorell, the Tasman Peninsula and the East Coast to Hobart and surrounding areas can now travel for free as part of a five-week trial ending at the end of April.

Typically, full fare travellers from Sorell to Hobart can save $15.20 on a return trip, Nubeena to Hobart $48.40, Bicheno to Hobart $75.60 and Campania to Hobart $18.

The free service applies to all bus service providers, Metro Tasmania and private buses.

The service is being underwritten by the Tasmanian Government as part of a plan to alleviate the impact of the current high fuel prices.

The first week of the trial showed a 13 per cent increase, or almost 4300 passengers a day, statewide.

However, bus services have been experiencing problems from cancellations caused by a shortage of drivers due to Covid.

Cancellations have prompted Metro Tasmania to apologise and appealed to passengers be kind to drivers.

“Our bus operators and customer service staff are working just as hard to assist you, so please be kind to them,’’ a Metro spokesperson said.
“While our services are free for five weeks, it never costs anything to be polite.’’

Transport Minister Michael Ferguson said the trial had the dual purpose of supporting family budgets and encouraging commuters to switch from private car travel to public transport.

“While higher fuel prices are due to global fuel market uncertainty, we understand the impact it is causing on cost of living pressures,’’ Mr Ferguson said.
“The Tasmanian Government heavily subsidises Metro and other private providers of public transport around the state.
“At this point, we see a temporary, highly attractive measure such as free bus travel as one option the Tasmanian Government can activate to ease cost of living pressures.”

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