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Airport station fee survives inquiry

Labor and the Greens dissented from the report, arguing the fee should be removed or reduced. Photo: Flickr

A parliamentary inquiry into Sydney Airport’s station access fee has declined to recommend scrapping the fee, but instead suggests investigating the use of discounts for certain users.

The stations, privately operated by Airport Link Company, require all passengers who purchase a train ticket to or from the domestic or international terminal to pay the station access fee, which is an extra $12.60 for a single adult ticket.

For the government to abolish the fee, it would need to either buy back the stations or make regular payments to the private operators.

The inquiry recommended in its final report that Transport for NSW investigate the feasibility of removing the fee for airport workers, and providing a discount to families or groups of three or more,

The report also stated that “the committee did not receive enough evidence to comment on whether the government should terminate the concession with Airport Link Company and buy back the stations”.

Having tourists immediately confronted with the fee creates a negative first impression of Sydney, the inquiry heard from the Tourism and Transport forum. Additionally, the report notes that full-time airport workers who commute by train pay an extra $1000 per year as a result of the fee.

But the inquiry also heard that the removing the fee would cost $600 million over 30 years, and that maintaining the fee (and the revenues raised from it) would most benefit the government, which currently receives 50 per cent of the access fee revenue and is slated to receive 85 per cent by the end of the year.

In her dissenting statement, Greens NSW Transport Spokesperson and member of the committee undertaking the inquiry Mehreen Faruqi said that the fee should be totally scrapped.

“The committee heard consistently that the complete removal of the station access fee would yield the greatest public and economic benefit, leading to increases in patronage on the airport line, reduced congestion and lower economic burden on workers,” she wrote.

Also dissenting was shadow transport minister Penny Sharpe, who initiated the inquiry, and argued that the fee should be abolished or reduced to assist workers and traffic.

“The current fees are effectively a $1000 a year tax on full time workers at the airport,” she said.

“For casual and part timers, the fee can be more than a quarter of what they earn in a shift.”

The state government is required to respond to the recommendations by August this year.

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