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Affordable public transport critical to recovery from homelessness

Public transport is essential to the lives of many Victorians but for those experiencing homelessness it can be crucial to their recovery.

Victoria’s public transport network cover the entire metropolitan Melbourne area with regular services available to most of regional and rural Victoria. This network of trains, trams and buses transports people to and from work, appointments, school, and social events, just to name a few.

The cost of public transport has been a barrier to people who are experiencing homelessness.

According to data obtained from the Public Transport Users Association, from 2000 to 2013 the average cost of public transport in Melbourne increased by 74% in constant dollar terms, and by nearly 20% in real terms (that is, factoring in the growth in CPI).

If a choice has to be made between buying food and a myki, the former will usually win out.

In October of this year, the State government introduced a 12-month trial of free public transport to vulnerable and disadvantaged Victorians.

The then Housing Minister Martin Foley said, “The new passes will help disadvantaged people get to the appointments and services they need to get their lives back on track.”

This was a result of the recent Ticketing Compliance and Enforcement Review, which found many people experiencing homelessness and disadvantage were forced to fare evade to get to appointments and access basic services.

Emergency relief groups, such as VincentCare, are provided with the new Weekly and Monthly passes at substantially discounted rates. The passes are then provided to their clients at no cost.

These new Weekly and Monthly passes will assist clients with complex issues by providing greater flexibility when it comes to making and keeping appointments.

With more affordable housing options available in regional and rural Victoria, affordable public transport becomes even more necessary in order to travel to work, school or to access essential services.

Like the Day Pass, the Weekly and Monthly Travel Passes will be valid in zones 1 and 2 and on regional town buses.

VincentCare Senior Practitioner Doug Harding said, “A critical part of the journey from homelessness to recovery is a return to independence. Being able to access affordable transport will assist someone who is experiencing homelessness by putting some control back into their hands.”

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