Government and Opposition members have voted down a Greens Bill that would have made Metro Tasmania bus services free.
Clark Greens MHA Vica Bayley said he was "disappointed" at the Liberal and Labor decision to oppose the Metro Tasmania (Free Public Transport) Amendment Bill 2023.
"We put forward this Bill because we understand that making Metro free would have provided genuine cost of living relief to the community," he said.
"With the price of groceries, petrol, and housing continuing to grow, tens of thousands of Tasmanians are doing it tough."
Free fares on Metro services would cut funding to the company and lead to lower investment in the bus fleet over time, Transport Minister Michael Ferguson said.
Responding to a question from Greens MHA Vica Bayley in Parliament on Wednesday, Mr Ferguson said vulnerable Tasmanians already have generous concessions on fares, and that introducing free services would be counterproductive.
"If we were to do what the Greens propose, what would actually occur is that you would be withdrawing public finances out of public transport," Mr Ferguson said.
"That would be the net effect and I wonder how would Metro manage its fleet replacement, how would it manage its upgrading of support for the Tasmanian community, how would it continue to meet best practice?"
Mr Bayley had said the Liberal government's move last year to introduce temporary free Metro bus services for five weeks last year had been a success, easing cost pressures at a time when fuel prices were over $2 per litre.
"Usage increased and anti-social behaviour fell, congestion eased and people saved money on fuel and parking," Mr Bayley said.
Cost of living pressures have worsened since that five-week free Metro period, he said.
"Rents and power prices are higher and fuel is back over $2 a litre," Mr Bayley said.
Mr Ferguson also criticised the Greens for what he claimed was an agenda fixated on inner-urban problems.
He said introducing free Metro services would not help the many Tasmanians in regional and rural areas which are not services by the state-owned bus group.
"We have eight other privately owned public transport providers here in Tasmania," Mr Ferguson said.
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