Stradbroke Island residents are planning to hold a community meeting to protest about new fares introduced by Stradbroke Ferries.
The meeting will be held on Saturday 23 May commencing 10:00 am at Ron Stark Oval, Dunwich.
Of particular concern to residents are changes to the Day Shopper fare.
Stradbroke Ferries initial proposal was to remove the day shopper ticket for locals. After locals expressed their concerns, Stradbroke Ferries reinstated the ‘day shopper fare” but with an additional condition that ‘day shopper fare’ was only a “standby fare”. This means that residents are not able to count on being able to travel and may not be able to return home if “full fare” payers fill the barge.
Five Concerns about new fares
Island resident Elinor Drake has identified five key issues:
- Fares for islanders are – apart from more the more limited and uncertain new version ‘shopper return’ – increasingly expensive overall. For the cheaper fares offered [and they are ‘seasonally based’], one must travel at only certain times – regardless of emergencies or life’s demands which do not fit such a timetable.
Clearly in the busy holiday times, ‘shopper returns’ won’t even be possible.
- The old ‘shopper day return’ fare has been replaced with a more limited and uncertain [“standby basis” only] arrangement. You could make the ‘booking’, turn up and then be told there’s no room for you! Moreover, the booking has to be made by phone, so does not attract the old online booking discount.
- Local business operators and tradesmen have to suffer increased rates, which will either be absorbed by them [and diminish their livelihood], or be passed on to island customers. Residents will thus be paying the penalty for others’ increased ferry costs, as well as our own!
- Visitors too will be put off by the price hikes, so we foresee the fare increases having a negative impact on tourism – one of the mainstays of the island economy.
- When Transit Systems Pty Ltd acquired Stradbroke Ferries Pty Ltd in 2011, the ACCC concluded that this would lessen competition. We are now feeling the unfair impacts of a monopoly provider of vehicular ferry services.
When the new fares were introduced, the Chief Executive of Stradborke Ferries said he hoped the new fares would encourage more tourists to the island and help the ferry company minimise costs, as reported by the Redland City Bulletin on 20 April.
Unhappy residents have already started a petition against the new fares. It had been signed by 1490 people according to a report in the Bulletin on 5 May.
Letter to Stradbroke Ferries from Rex Kimlin
Amity resident Rex Kimlin has written the following open letter which details the impacts of the changes on his wife and himself:
CEO Stradbroke Ferries,
I am a 92 year-old WW2 Air Force Veteran, and my wife and I have enjoyed living on Straddie for 26 years. I retired over here, and the life style is wonderful. Now I am not sure it was the right move.
We both have to go to the mainland to have medical appointments quite frequently and as I am in a wheelchair I cannot use the water taxi and have to use the barge. Now with the new proposed fee set-up, I can see it becoming very difficult and expensive for us. While there was competition we enjoyed a free journey now and then, and the cost of travel was the same whatever time you travelled. We used our day shopper frequently and quite often due to appointments running overtime or finishing early we sometimes have to change travel times. As I see it now I could be charged extra for changing any bookings. I also understand that we will be placed on stand-by when making a booking for a day trip and may have to wait for the next ferry if other confirmed bookings supersede ours. This is just not manageable for people our age and with our health problems. Also I can see it having a severe effect on the tourist trade.
A few people have said to me that it is much cheaper to have their holidays on the Gold Coast.
I appeal to you to reconsider these draconian changes, and hope some of these proposed changes get changed for the better.