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Seniors to benefit from Australia-wide travel concessions

24/7/2008

Western Australia has welcomed a $50million pledge by the Federal Government to establish across-border travel concessions for seniors, allowing them to take advantage of discounted public transport outside of their home State.

Acting Seniors Minister Mark McGowan and Planning and Infrastructure Minister Alannah MacTiernan said all States and Territories had backed the plan to introduce reciprocal travel concessions at a ministerial council meeting in Canberra yesterday.

“This is great news for the more than 260,000 seniors in WA,” Mr McGowan said.

“For several years the State Government lobbied the former Commonwealth for across-border travel concessions and it’s great to see Federal Labor come to the table.

“Seniors’ Minister Sue Ellery has been a big advocate and should be congratulated.

“The initiative will ensure about three million Australians will have access to public transport concessions that apply in the jurisdiction they are visiting, and will also be eligible for long distance rail travel discounts.”

Ms MacTiernan said she looked forward to working with the Federal Government and other States to ensure fully-reciprocal cross-border concessions for seniors were in place by January 2009 to meet the nominated timeframe.

“In WA, Seniors Card Holders are entitled to reductions of about 60 per cent of the standard cash fare, and travel free on Sundays, public holidays and during Seniors Week,” she said.

“These very generous concessions, which include a $3.30 DayRider, which can cost as little as $2.48 with the full SmartRider discount, allowing unlimited travel across the system if the journey starts before 7.15am or after 9am.

“Because our Seniors Cards incorporate SmartRider, Australia’s most successful electronic transport sector ticketing system, all holders are eligible for discounts of up to 25 per cent on their already low fares.”

Mr McGowan said the reciprocal transport scheme would add further benefits to WA’s Seniors Card, which was already the most generous program of its kind in the country.

“It saves seniors up to $1,500 each year in reduced State Government fees and charges,” he said.

“With the population of over 60-year-olds in WA expected to expand to more than 770,000 in 2031, and with older people becoming increasingly active, this new transport initiative will deliver a significant improvement to the mobile lifestyles of older people.

“It will mean that the hundreds of thousands of WA seniors, who already receive great benefits from our Seniors Card program, will be further advantaged.”

Mr McGowan said the call for a national Seniors Card scheme had gained momentum over the years, driven by the increased mobility of seniors as tourists.

“More and more seniors are choosing travel as part of their retirement and are visiting family living outside of their home State,” he said.

Council on the Ageing WA president Bettine Heathcote welcomed the plan and said reciprocal travel entitlements were a high priority for seniors groups.

“This would be a valuable contribution to seniors’ lives and it is something that seniors have been looking forward to for many years,” Mrs Heathcote said.

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