We need new public transport initiatives for sustainability and to revitalise our city

The June 12 Herald newsclips briefly reported on council's decision to explore the possibility of making the whole city a Free Transit Zone. It's worth explaining the thinking behind this.

Everyone agrees that we need to revitalise the heart of Freo and make it a real hub of commercial, social and community life. However we are never going to be able to do this by offering the acres of free parking you find at Garden City. Instead we need to improve public transport and cycling facilities and services.

The problem with the FreoStar was that it was simply too infrequent to be a viable option for the majority of people in the areas it served. Council will never have the resources to be a serious stand alone public transport operator. This is the responsibility of the state government.

However what council can and should do is seek to build on and facilitate better Transperth services. Already we are identifying and prioritising light rail transit corridors in an effort to encourage the state government to commit to a really serious step up in public transport for our region.

The idea with the Free Transit Zone is that all residents in the city be issued with a Transperth 'SmartRider' card programmed to allow free travel within the city. You'd hope this would stimulate more bus travel and in turn the demand for Transperth to improve its services, particularly to our poorly served suburbs such as Samson.

Unlike subsidising services to only particular suburbs, a Free Transit Zone would be a more equitable way for council to spend the money. If for whatever reason this is not possible, new CAT services to suburbs not serviced by the existing routes might also be an option.

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