A plan to charge Sydney light rail passengers to ride replacement buses has been slammed by an MP, who says riders shouldn’t have to pay for the government’s ‘mistakes’.
Sydneysiders forced to ride replacement buses for 18 months after cracks were found in light rail trains will only have to pay half the fare, the NSW Transport Minister has said.
The backflip came after public outrage over an earlier decision to charge riders the full fare to catch buses replacing light rail trains in the city’s inner west.
“I understand regular passengers on the inner west light rail are really frustrated by this situation. That’s why we’re applying a 50 per cent discount to the fare price for the replacement bus services we have operating,” Transport Minister Rob Stokes said.
“It will take some time to get the system up and running, but we expect it to be operating within a fortnight.”
The inner west light rail service will be at a standstill for up to 18 months as officials deal with a defect that caused cracks to appear in the trams.
Opposition transport spokeswoman Jo Haylen said the offer of paying half the fare wasn’t good enough.
“The passengers of the inner west and of Sydney shouldn’t have to pay for this government’s mistakes,” she told reporters.
“I will continue to campaign to make sure that these slower replacement buses are provided free of charge.”
The inner west service cannot be replaced with trams from another light rail system in the city’s east because the vehicles are of a different size.
Instead, engineers will have to fix the problem before services can resume.
Mr Stokes said the discounted fare would mean a bus trip from the end station of Dulwich Hill to Central would cost $1.90 instead of the light rail price of $3.79.
He also said other alternatives were being considered, such as reinstating a ferry service at Blackwattle Bay.
“We are looking at every option we have available to ease the trouble this is causing for those passengers,” Mr Stokes said.
“I want to thank the people of the inner west for their patience and my promise to them is to resolve this issue as quickly as we possibly can.”