Free, reliable and frequent public transport

In the midst of a historic recession, essential services that get our economy going and help people participate in their communities should be free. 

Public transport in Queensland is too slow, too unreliable and too expensive. This costs us money, increases stress, and forces more people to drive, making traffic worse and parking harder. 

In the midst of a historic recession, essential services that get our economy going and help people participate in their communities should be free. 

The Greens will:

  • Introduce free public transport in Queensland, saving $864 million over four years by scrapping the expensive, privatised ticketing system, reducing spending on road-widening and cutting costs associated with fare evasion like court costs 
  • Reform Brisbane’s bus network to ensure a high frequency bus on every major road corridor 
  • Expand bus networks in regional cities and towns including Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast, Cairns, Townsville, Rockhampton, Mackay, Gladstone, Bundaberg, Hervey Bay, Maryborough and Toowoomba, aiming for a bus every 10 minutes on major road corridors  
  • Create a fast rail network in South East-Queensland connecting Gold Coast, Brisabne, Toowoomba, Ipswich and the Sunshine Coast
  • Establish a $4 billion public transport expansion fund to improve and expand public transport across Queensland, covering reforms of the bus network and high speed rail
  • Transition Queensland’s bus fleet to electric and mandate that all new buses be manufactured in Queensland
     

Free Public Transport 

It’s time for free public transport. The Greens would scrap all public transport fares in Queensland, introducing free public transport on all buses, trains and ferries. Free, frequent and reliable public transport would take pressure off families, cut congestion and transform how Queenslanders move around.

Free public transport would provide a massive economic stimulus at a time when Queensland’s economy desperately needs it by putting more money in people’s pockets, increasing travel around the city and making our neighbourhoods and communities accessible, thriving places to live. 
 

Where has it worked around the world?

There are numerous examples of countries and cities successfully abolishing public transport fares. Luxembourg became the first country to scrap public transport fares this year, while Germany is seriously considering introducing free public transport to fight air pollution.

Belgium city Hasselt  introduced free public transport in 1997 while Estonian city Tallinn introduced free public transport in 2013. 

While in Brisbane public transport is free for seniors during off-peak times. It is also free for ticket holders at Suncorp Stadium and The Gabba and other big sporting and cultural events. 
 

Costings

Prior to Covid-19, the annual fare revenue for public transport in Queensland was $360 million a year. To put this into context the Queensland Government has committed to spending $371 million for a new privatised ticketing system. The cost of the new ticketing system exceeds the average yearly revenue for public transport. The Queensland Government already subsidises around 80% of every single trip on buses, trains and ferries. It seems like common sense to just make it 100% instead.  

Introducing free public transport would save over $800 million over four years overall by scrapping the expensive, privatised ticketing system, reducing spending on roads and cutting costs associated with fare evasion like court costs. 

After these savings the net lost revenue would be $458 million over four years. This would be covered by the Greens Developer Tax. After developers have made billions of dollars in profit, it’s only fair they pay a little bit more to ensure our public transport system can accommodate a growing population. 

Free Public Transport Costings ($millions)

2021/22

2022/23

2023/24

2024/25

Total over four years

Lost revenue from fares

-$214

-$278

-$361

-$470

-$1,322

Savings from abolishing privatised ticketing system, reduced court costs and reduction in road widenings

$325

$177

$180

$182

$864

Totals

$111

-$100

-$182

-$288

-$458


 

High Frequency Bus along every major road

The Queensland Greens would simplify Brisbane’s bus network to create high-frequency bus routes along every major road. Under our plan, all Brisbane residents would be able to “turn up and go”. Instead of checking the timetable, commuters would be able to rely on getting a bus anytime. 

Our plan would make public transport a much more viable option for many thousands of residents. Every major road corridor would have frequent bus services running every 5-10 minutes between 5.30am and 11.30pm, 7 days a week. 

By streamlining duplicate or redundant routes and reorganising the bus network, we can provide frequent and reliable services in more areas without losing any existing corridors. In some cases this will actually reduce the total cost of providing the service. 

Fixing the network is cheap, because most of the improvements are achieved through reorganisation.

 

Expand bus networks in regional cities and towns

The Queensland Greens would invest part of the $4 billion Public Transport Expansion Fund in expanding the bus networks in regional cities and towns including Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast, Cairns, Townsville, Rockhampton, Mackay, Gladstone, Bundaberg, Hervey Bay, Maryborough and Toowoomba, aiming for a bus every 10 minutes on major road corridors. 

A frequent, free public transport system will improve tourism and help local economies thrive by making it easier to move around the city. 

 

Fast Rail for South East Queensland 

The Greens will create three major fast rail links:

  1. Brisbane and the Gold Coast
  2. Brisbane to the Sunshine Coast 
  3. Brisbane and Toowoomba

With growing traffic and congestion around South East Queensland, more highways, road widenings and road upgrades won’t fix congestion. Like all road widenings, a second M1 will only kick the can down the road, with more roads inevitably leading to more cars. 

Free, fast rail links connecting the Sunshine Coast, Gold Coast and Toowoomba will reduce congestion, unlock regional tourism and lay the foundation for a high speed rail network connecting all of Queensland. 

The trains would travel in excess of 160km/hr and significantly reduce travel times throughout South East Queensland.

Travel Time 

Fast Rail  (Min) 

Car  (Min) 

Urban Rail (Min) 

Gold Coast 

35

80

73

Sunshine Coast 

45

95

86

Ipswich 

20

50

58

The fast rail connections will be funded by the Queensland Greens Public Transport Expansion Fund. 

 

Public Transport Expansion Fund 

The Greens would establish a $4 billion public transport expansion fund dedicated to expanding Queensland’s public transport network over four years. The fund would go toward expanding bus fleets, providing the seed funding for fast rail projects and providing capital funding for public and active transport infrastructure like green bridges. 

 

Electric and manufactured locally  

The Greens would gradually roll over our State’s bus fleets to clean, quiet electric vehicles and mandate that all new busses be made locally in Queensland. For State-government funded purchases and starting with the next new order, all bus purchases will be electric. Charging stations supplemented with solar panels at each route terminus for buses would be progressively rolled out alongside the roll out of the electric bus fleet.

This could be achieved gradually, one route at a time, as older buses are retired. Many urban buses only travel around 200 km per day, so with overnight charging they could run easily all day with small top-ups. 

Running electric buses is significantly cheaper with much less maintenance required, and far lower fuel costs. Over 10 years, the Greens estimate that this policy would be totally cost-neutral. 

 

Green Bridges

While the Brisbane City Council in 2019 committed to fund the walking and cycling “green bridges” proposed by the Greens, only the Kangaroo Point-CBD and Breakfast Creek green bridges have a timeline for completion by 2023, while the Toowong-West End and St Lucia-West End bridges are not promised for another decade. The Greens would provide State Government funding to fast-track those two walking and cycling bridges for completion by 2023.