The cost of a Newcastle tram ride during peak periods will increase by nearly $1 next month as part of changes to public transport fares announced by the NSW government on Friday.
The changes, to apply from July 6, include a temporary 50 per cent discount for off-peak travel on bus, train and light rail services to help manage social distancing.
The discount will end after three months, but a 30 per cent discount will apply thereafter for bus and tram travel in line with the existing off-peak discount on trains.
But while the cost of an adult light rail fare will decrease to $1.60 in off-peak times, a fare in peak times will rise to $3.20 from $2.24.
Off-peak discounts will apply to the city's bus network for the first time, but regular fares for trips up to three kilometres will ultimately rise to $3.20 from $2.24.
In off-peak times, the fare will drop from $2.24 to $1.60.
Trips between 3-8 km will drop from $3.73 to $1.86 and journeys more than 8km will fall from $4.80 to $2.40.
However while the extension of off-peak discounts to light rail and bus services will be welcomed by those customers, all public transport users are likely to be less enthused by changes to peak travel times across the network.
The new peak times are: 6:30am-10am on Sydney Trains and Metro, light rail and buses (currently 7am-9am); 6am-10am on Intercity Trains (currently 6am-8am); and 3pm-7pm on Sydney Trains, Intercity Trains and Metro, light rail and buses (currently 4pm-6:30pm).
The changes come after a review of public transport fares by the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) last year.
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Transport Minister Andrew Constance said "the vast majority of commuters" would benefit from the ticketing overhaul "with either cheaper travel" or through "no change to their fares".
"A third of commuters will save an average of $3.60 a week based on current travel patterns," he said.
"We've waived the usual CPI increase and have rejected ... recommendations to increase Opal fares by 20 per cent over four years."
Ferry and train fare prices have not changed.
The $2.80 Sunday travel cap will be scrapped for a new $8.05 all-day travel cap that will apply on both Saturday and Sunday. The existing $2.50 cap for pensioner Opal card holders will remain.
Newcastle state MP Tim Crakanthorp said the changes had been designed to appear beneficial, but commuters would ultimately come off second best.
"It's good to see the off-peak discount be introduced to the light rail and buses, however the off-peak times look to be restrictive so we'll see just how many people are actually able to take advantage of this," he said.
"Considering the cost of living pressures that are particularly prevalent at the moment, I don't believe this is the right time to be looking at a fare increase."
Other existing Opal benefits to remain:
- The $2 transfer discount;
- The daily weekday cap of $16.10 ($8 concession);
- $50 weekly travel caps ($25 concession);
- Half price trips after eight journeys in a week;
- $2.50 unlimited travel for Gold Senior/Pensioner Opal card holders.