Victoria: Private transport operators seek to cash in on coronavirus pandemic

Usage of public transport has all but stopped due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

As public transport usage collapses due to the coronavirus pandemic, the private operators of Melbourne’s public transport system are seeking a “rescue package”.

A March 27 article in The Age reported public transport usage was down by about 90%, causing a big reduction in fare revenue.

The companies running Melbourne’s trains, trams and buses receive government subsidies totalling about $1.5 billion a year.

Normally, this guarantees their profits. But with fare revenue down, so too are profits.

The pretext for the controversial privatisation of trams and trains, that were formerly owned and run by the state government, was that private enterprise is more efficient. This was always untrue, as shown by the huge subsidies private operators receive.

The fact these companies now demand even bigger subsidies from government when an unexpected problem arises makes this even clearer.

If the government is paying for a service, such as public transport, there is no reason why private companies should profit from it.

Public transport should be taken back into public hands.