New South Wales

NSW public transport revenue decreases despite fare increases and increased patronage: report

PUBLIC transport revenue decreased by 2.7 per cent despite a fare increase and increased patronage, according to a report released last week by the NSW Acting Auditor-General, Tony Whitfield.

The report also states that twenty-five per cent of all Opal trips (over 74 million) were free, including 47 per cent of trips on ferries. These trips were valued at $189 million.

In addition, the report finds that the Opal system is not providing Sydney Trains and NSW Trains with sufficient information on passenger revenue and trips to assist in operating an efficient and effective business. For example, boarding and exiting data by station 24/7 is not available, which restricts operators' ability to resource demand appropriately.

Sydney train at dusk
Above: Sydney train at dusk / by hopeless128.

"Transport for NSW should ensure that the Opal system directly provides revenue information to meet the needs of all stakeholders," the Acting Auditor-General said "It should also require the Opal service provider to independently confirm the effectiveness of its systems," he added.

These were some of the findings the Acting Auditor-General reported in the Volume Six 2015 Report to Parliament, which covered Transport Cluster agencies such as the Transport for NSW, RailCorp, Sydney Trains, NSW Trains, Roads and Maritime Services and State Transit Authority.

Other findings include:

  • Financial reporting continues to improve - The quality of transport agencies' financial statements continues to improve with misstatements falling significantly from 54 in 2010-11 to just 14 in 2014-15. Unqualified audit opinions were issued for all cluster agencies' 2014-15 financial statements.
  • Average travel speeds on Sydney roads continues to fall - Average travel speeds on Sydney roads fell for the morning and afternoon peaks from 39.0 to 37.9 kilometres per hour and from 36.0 to 35.2 kilometres per hour, respectively.
  • Ride quality improves despite maintenance backlog - At 30 June 2015, Roads and Maritime Services reported a maintenance backlog of $5.3 billion. Despite this, overall ride quality on roads improved. It spent $612 million on asset maintenance in 2014-15, $82.0 million more than planned.
  • Potential conflicts of interest need to be effectively managed - RailCorp and Sydney Trains have the same Chief Executive and Chief Financial Officer. This creates a potential risk that their decisions may favour one entity over another. There is a potential for rail services to favour Sydney Trains (which operates signalling priorities) ahead of other operators.
  • Passenger revenue and patronage - Public transport revenue decreased by 2.7 per cent despite a price increase and increased patronage. Transport for NSW (TfNSW) attributes this mainly to the Opal pricing strategy.
  • Road travel speeds - Average travel speeds on Sydney roads continued to fall. The afternoon peak average speed fell from 36.0 to 35.2 kilometres per hour.

More information is available from the Audit Office of New South Wales website at <http://www.audit.nsw.gov.au/>.

Photo: Sydney train at dusk / '150531-1078-EOSM.jpg' / hopeless128 / Licensed under Creative Commons BY-NC-ND 2.0.

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