South Australian Seniors Card holders have collectively saved up to $5.1 million on Adelaide Metro travel costs since free all-day travel was introduced, data shows.
Public transport became free all day for Seniors Card holders in July 2022. Previously, such card holders were charged for services during the morning and afternoon peak periods on weekdays from 7am to 9am and 3pm to 7pm.
Seniors have embraced free travel during these times, with an uplift in trips taken over the first 12 months of the program. The 12 months from July 2022 saw a total patronage of 7,338,675 by seniors card holders - a monthly average of 611,556 and a 37 per cent increase on the previous full financial year.
More than 1.7 million trips were taken by senior card holders in the morning and afternoon peaks during the first 12 months of the initiative, collectively saving Seniors Card holders between $3.4 million and $5.1 million, depending on whether travellers would have opted for the $2 MetroCard trip or $3 paper ticket.
The state government said while seniors who were already travelling during off-peak times continued to do so, it had seen an increase in journeys by seniors who would otherwise have stayed home or who would have had to make alternative arrangements to arrive at their appointments.
Passengers can access free travel by validating their Seniors Card each time they board a service or pass through barrier gates.
State transport minister Tom Koutsantonis said the the initiative gave eligible South Australians more choice and greater independence by removing a barrier to public transport.
"Effectively, this has enabled a new cohort of seniors to be able to travel by public transport, and in doing so we're taking steps to revive patronage numbers across the network that were hit by the COVID pandemic," he said.
COTA SA chief executive officer Miranda Starke said the organisation had advocated for free public transport for Seniors Card holders and was delighted to see such strong uptake.
"At a time of significant cost of living pressures for many older South Australians living on low and fixed incomes, removing the cost barrier to participating in community life on a full-time basis is crucial," she said.
"With this initiative we are seeing more older South Australians able to contribute as workers, volunteers, carers, shoppers, grandparents and active community members - and that's a good thing for all of us."
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