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‘Disappointing and very unfair’: Glebe ferry excluded from free public transport deal

The Me-Mel ferry will continue to charge full price over the Easter holidays. Photo: Transdev.


A Glebe ferry that travels from Blackwattle Bay to Barangaroo has been excluded from the state government’s fare-free travel period that will begin tomorrow, sparking outrage from residents who think the service “should be promoted, not punished”.

The Me-Mel ferry, a 60-capacity mini-cat vessel that operates twice an hour, is a jewel in the crown of the Glebe community, but won’t be included in a fare-free public transport period from April 14 to 26, which was announced by Transport Minister David Elliott as a “thank you” to the public for their patience during COVID-19 restrictions, weather impacts and network disruptions. Instead, full prices will be charged.

“Given that this ferry is operated by Transdev, the same company that operates all the other Sydney Harbour ferries, it is disappointing and very unfair that it has never accepted the Opal Card and won’t provide free rides during the fare-free period,” Glebe local and frequent ferry user Phil Young said.

When asked by City Hub why the Me-Mel ferry was excluded from the public transport fare-free period this month, a Transport for NSW spokesperson said that “free fares will apply on all Opal network services” in Greater Sydney, and that “private operators will continue to charge as usual”.

Greens State Member for Balmain Jamie Parker said that the service should be promoted to the public and that the private operator “unfortunately decided against” providing the service for free across the Easter period.

Member for Balmain Jamie Parker. Photo: Allison Hore.

“The government privatise public transport where private operators run the transport network and are paid by the government to do so,” Parker told City Hub. 

“Buses can face significant congestion on roads, our harbour is not only beautiful but a fantastic opportunity to get traffic off roads and move people around our city effectively.”

Glebe ferry controversy comes days after bus drivers strike

The fare-free period will come into action just days after 2000 bus drivers working for private companies walked off the job on Monday, with hundreds gathering in Martin Place to demand ‘safer and fairer’ standards across the Sydney transport network.

Bus drivers on the privatised network say that some are receiving significantly lower pay and worse conditions than other drivers working the same routes from identical depots.

Mr Elliott said that the strikes were a matter for the drivers and their private operators, with the Transport Workers’ Union accusing the Transport Minister of choosing “belligerence” rather than “fix[ing] the problems of safety and unfairness in the bus industry”.

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