Rising electricity costs, food prices and the cost of rent has made it difficult to live on an Age Pension and free nation-wide public transport would lessen this burden.
The State Government of Western Australia is leading the charge when it comes to providing for those worse off. The government currently provides free off-peak public transport on Transperth services between 9am and 3.30pm during weekdays and free transport all day on weekends and public holidays for those on the Age Pension, Disability Support Pension and Carers Health Care card holders. But these services can and need to be expanded.
The ASFA Retirement Standard benchmarks the annual budget to fund a comfortable living needed by Australians who live alone as $22,585, an amount significantly higher than current pension rates. Struggling is a word used by many aged pensioners who have found themselves renting in non-government funded residences, living from payment to payment. There is no doubt that further increases to Age Pensions are required, but providing key services to those who need them most at no cost is of even greater importance. By providing free public transport for regional and metropolitan transport services Australia-wide, pensioners who have been limited to leaving their residence a few days every week because of budget constraints, can now increase their quality of life by getting out and about more often.
Many will argue that transport is the role of a state, not the Federal Government, but when a policy is to be enforced in every state and territory and to be funded nationally, it becomes a Federal Government matter and a key policy which could be taken to an election.
What do you think? Would free public transport make a difference to your quality of life?