SMH: Tickets sales rocket on airport line as prices plunge Jacob Saulwick (June 9, 2011)
It was once unloved and unused. But patronage on Sydney’s Airport Line, which has the only privately owned stations on the CityRail network, has exploded since the former Labor government started subsidising fares on two stations.
The final transport policy of the Keneally government was to pay the $2.60 ”station access fee” for commuters using Mascot and Green Square, two stations in the former premier’s electorate.
Since that decision in early March more than 950,000 passengers have passed through the stations, a 70 per cent increase on the same period last year.
”Those stations have always grown by 20 per cent a year, so I consider that the recent ticket price changes have increased passengers by 50 per cent,” the chief executive of the Airport Link company, Tim Anderson, told the Herald.\
But the surge in patronage will come at a cost. When Kristina Keneally announced that the government would pay Airport Link the fee, lowering the price of a single ticket from Green Square to the city from $5.80 to $3.20, she said it would cost the government about $4 million a year. This was based on an assumption that cheaper fares would increase usage of the stations by about 15 per cent. An earlier report by consultants Booz & Company predicted a 17 per cent increase if the fee was removed.
However the 70 per cent jump in usage of the line is now estimated to cost the government about $8 million a year.
Another privately owned infra-structure company, Sydney Airport, upped its campaign for the government to extend its ticket price subsidy to the two airport stations – Domestic and International – as well.
The airport’s general manager of corporate affairs, Rod Gilmour, recently wrote to all federal and state MPs with electorates on the Airport & East Hills, Eastern Suburbs or Illawarra lines urging them to campaign for the government to subsidise the $11.80 one-way fee to airport stations.
”There is no public policy reason why the 16,000 workers at Sydney Airport should be the only commuters in NSW who have to pay a surcharge to use public transport to get to work,” Mr Gilmour wrote.
The convenor of EcoTransit Sydney, Gavin Gatenby, has campaigned to cut fares on the line. Told about the leap in usage, Mr Gatenby said: ”The patronage lift highlights the stupidity of the public-private partnership that built the line.”