Gov't plan may cut transport cost

PUBLIC transport costs more in the Northern Rivers than in the city, but there is hope a new plan being developed by the NSW Government may address the inequity.

Northern Rivers Social Development Council project officer Linda Wirf said there was no real explanation as to why a bus journey of similar duration should cost more in regional NSW than in the city.

"Public transport is subsidised in metro areas but it is not subsidised to the same extent in regional Australia," she said.

Figures supplied by the social development council show a 10-minute bus ride between Goonellabah and Lismore costs more than twice as much, at $5.20 for a full fare, than a 10-minute journey between Glebe and Sydney city, which costs just $2.

"Regional areas suffer great transport disadvantage," Ms Wirf said.

The high cost of public transport meant people living on the Northern Rivers were car-dependant.

Last year, a 12-month trial of an additional bus service between Nimbin and Lismore was launched.

However, there are now concerns the bus service will not continue because of a "perception" it was cheaper to drive from Nimbin to Lismore than get the bus.

Nimbin Neighbourhood and Information Centre manager Natalie Meyer said when you calculated all the costs associated with owning a car, it was cheaper to get the bus.

A one-way fare between Nimbin and Lismore costs $9, or $7 if you purchase 10 trips at once.

According to figures from insurance company RACQ, the real cost of running a small car was almost 60c a km. Based on these figures the 30km trip between Nimbin and Lismore actually cost $18.

Ms Meyer said when petrol hits $2 a litre the cost of private car ownership would become even more unaffordable. She urged people in Nimbin to consider taking the bus more often before bus services were cut.

"We need to support public transport or we will be without it and isolated," she said.

Transport for NSW will come to the Northern Rivers sometime this year to hold consultations about public transport to assist it to develop the NSW Long Term Master Transport Plan.

In the meantime, you can fill out an online Transport for NSW survey at transportmasterplan.

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