Illawarra commuters could benefit more than most from Labor’s plan to compensate passengers delayed on Sydney Trains services, local MPs say.
If they win the March state election, Labor has pledged to allow commuters to apply for a refund of the cost of their journey, if their train is delayed by more than half an hour due to an “avoidable delay”.
NSW Shadow Minister for the Illawarra and Member for Keira Ryan Park, and Member for Wollongong Paul Scully said that this policy will work to compensate Illawarra commuters who are more disadvantaged by these delays than most, due to the amount of time they already spend on the train.
Mr Park said examples of avoidable delays would include delays due to staffing levels, poor maintenance or signal failure, but would not include the likes of storms, floods and heatwaves.
Mr Park said their message to commuters is simple.
“If your train is late and we could have avoided it being late, you are entitled to a refund on your journey,” he said.
“This policy makes sense and will negate some of the inconvenience that is felt more by Illawarra commuters already spending a large amount of their day commuting.”
Mr Scully said if people aren’t getting to their commitments on time because of avoidable delays that mean their train arrives 30 minutes late, then it’s fair that they get a fare refund.
Minister for Transport and Infrastructure Andrew Constance responded to Labor’s announcement.
“The Opposition needs to explain exactly how they will refund customers whose trains are delayed 30 minutes or more – which for the record was just 0.27 per cent of peak services last month,” he said.
“The way the current Opal system works means passengers tap on and off at station gates – not specific trains. It is impossible to track which trains passengers are boarding, therefore impossible to know if they are late.”
Mr Constance said Labor’s “pie in the sky idea” would require about $100 million in technology upgrades to the Opal system, which would take years to implement.