Seniors will get free trips on Brisbane buses, CityCats and ferries — if they are happy to travel outside rush hour.
The Brisbane City Council budget, due to be handed down on Wednesday, will include a $3.1 million payment to the state government to allow the council to provide free off-peak travel for eligible senior Go Card holders.
Brisbane lord mayor Adrian Schrinner said free off-peak travel for seniors would make better use of available capacity and create more opportunities for older residents to travel the city and connect with family and friends.
“It’s also about giving something back to the generations who have worked hard and contributed so much to help build our city and our community,” he said.
“Social isolation and loneliness amongst older residents is consistently a major concern raised by community researchers.
“The evidence clearly shows that older residents are more likely to live on their own.
“Making it possible for seniors to get out and about more, at no cost, has the potential to bring many positive benefits to our community.”
The free travel will apply from October 1 on Brisbane buses, CityCats and ferries between 8.30am and 3.30pm, and 6pm to 6am, Monday to Friday. Buses will be free for seniors on weekends.
The initiative will also apply to the Brisbane Metro bi-articulated buses when services begin in 2023.
Cr Schrinner called on the Queensland government to match the announcement for rail passengers in the state budget, which will be handed down on Tuesday.
He said the council did not have the ability to reduce public transport fares, as they were set by the state government agency TransLink, but could introduce measures aimed at boosting patronage.
“Free off-peak travel for seniors on council’s public transport will go a long way to encouraging greater use of public transport, and I encourage the state government to adopt the same approach for rail commuters,” he said.
The council budget also includes funding for the Council Cabs program, a shared taxi service to take residents who are over 60 years, mobility-impaired or pension concession cardholders to their local shops for a set fare.
It will be Cr Schrinner’s first budget as lord mayor.
Labor pledged free off-peak public transport for seniors in 2011.