13 July 2023

Minister puts Wagga's public transport on notice over lack of cashless payment option

| Jarryd Rowley
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A bus in Wagga

Wagga’s public transport services still only allow for cash as the only payment option but NSW Minister for Regional Transport and Roads Jenny Aitchison says that the issue is on the agenda. Photo: Jarryd Rowley.

The lack of cashless payment methods for Wagga’s public transport system has been put on the agenda of the NSW Minister for Regional Transport and Roads following her visit to the Riverina earlier this week.

Hon. Jenny Aitchison said while the issue of electronic ticketing hadn’t been addressed between the NSW Government and Wagga Wagga City Council, the topics of electronic payments and security were on the agenda.

“When you look at public transport, regional areas can’t be treated as the poor cousins,” she said.

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“I remember visiting Wagga as a Shadow Minister and there wasn’t electronic ticketing in the region, it’s something we have to look at.”

Ms Aitchison said bus operators in other country regions had used electronic ticketing, but because of difficulties including certain concessions being incompatible, the system had to be scrapped.

“It’s really concerning when I hear about university students who come to Wagga from my own electorate (Maitland) who are unable to get a concession card when travelling in Wagga,” Ms Aitchison said.

“There is obviously a real problem in regards to how public transport is ticketed in the area; a review of the transport system may need to be looked at to ensure that people who are using public transport are looked after.

“Poor public transport services become a real issue for people who use public transport to travel for work and education.”

Charles Sturt University student Tayla Olsen has been using public transport to travel to and from classes since she enrolled in 2021.

She said the lack of electronic payment options on busses was disappointing, with local public transport needing to be held to a higher standard for a city with 70,000 people.

“During peak study periods I use buses two or three times a day for three or four days a week,” Tayla said.

“It’s very frustrating. I have to consistently take cash out which is not a comfortable thing to have on you when you’re travelling early in the morning or late into the afternoon.

“When compared to Wollongong or Sydney’s systems, it feels like we’re living 10 to 20 years behind everywhere else.”

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Ms Aitchison said she had tasked Transport for NSW with improving the public transport for people travelling from regional towns into larger cities such as Sydney and Newcastle.

“We have many people in regional communities who need to come to larger cities for appointments, education and to find work.

“The NSW Government have installed additional services and routes over the past several years but we know there are some issues about the way that the additional transport has been delivered to towns like Wagga.

“We’ve had conversations with WWCC and moving forward, we want to look at what local public transport actually needs and build a better evidence base for future services.”

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