Queensland transport operators have been given help to support their customers through the COVID-19 downturn.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the state government had approved a $54.5 million package that will allow regional air, bus and ferry services to keep running while social distancing measures remain in place.
“This helps people in regional Queensland stay in jobs and as well as helping communities access essential supplies and services,” the Premier said.
Transport and Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey said transport was an essential service during the COVID-19 crisis.
“Operators can’t afford to keep running these services when passenger numbers are down as much as 95 per cent,” Mr Bailey said.
“Unfortunately, people living in our regional and remote towns rely on these services and would be virtually cut off from the world if they lost access to them.
“With this package, operators and the workers they employ can continue running services for up to six months as our economy recovers.”
Mr Bailey said the relief package was targeted to keep air, bus and ferry services running in communities where some of these services are was the only transport option.
The funding package would also allow for the waiver of some fees and extend licence terms for taxi, limousine and rideshare operators.
“Hundreds of drivers have been on the frontline across our state during this pandemic helping people with essential travel, but they’ve seen fares disappear almost overnight,” Mr Bailey said.
“Some operators want to de-register their vehicles until COVID-19 is over, so this means they won’t pay to do that, or when they re-register that same vehicle in the future either.”
The relief package will extend support to freight, transport and logistics companies too, continuing the existing freeze on heavy vehicle registration fees until 30 June 2021.
Fees normally charged to drivers to cancel their licence or vehicle registration will be waived too.
Learner drivers whose licence is about to expire will have their learner licences renewed at no cost until such time that they can book a practical driving test.
Mr Bailey thanked transport industry heads for their leadership and engagement during the COVID-19 response.
“As is the case for many industries, it will likely be some months before things return to what was previously considered ‘normal’ for the transport industry,” Mr Bailey said.
“It will be a long journey back and will require unity and strong leadership from everyone involved.
“I’ve had regular conference meetings with leaders across the sector and I thank them for their preparedness to work together through these challenges with us.”
- Support for QantasLink, Regional Express (Rex), Skytrans and Hinterland Aviation to continue running air services on reduced schedules to regional and remote communities, to complement Federal grant funding, which will contribute to rebuilding to a more frequent timetable
- Support for bus operators to continue running services in Cairns, Innisfail, Townsville and Magnetic Island, Bowen, Whitsundays, Mackay, Yeppoon, Mt Morgan and Gracemere, Rockhampton, Gladstone, Bundaberg and Elliott Heads, Maryborough and Hervey Bay, Gympie, Maleny, Kilcoy and Woodford, Minjerribah, Toowoomba and Warwick.
- Support for ferry operators to keep running services on a reduced schedule to Thursday Island, Magnetic Island, Minjerribah (North Stradbroke Island), Southern Moreton Bay Islands and Coochiemudlo Island.
Personalised Transport Industry
- Extending existing booked hire/taxi driver authorisations and taxi/limousine licences for six months
- A further waiver of the annual Taxi Industry Security Levy in 2019/20
- Extending all existing booking entity authorisations for six months
- Extending the refund policy for holders of booked hire service licences so they can receive a pro-rata refund if they choose to surrender their licence
- Waiving fees for operators to de-register and re-register their vehicles.
- Continuing the existing registration freeze by a year
- Removing de-registration and re-registration fees.
Licence and Registration Fees
- Fees to cancel licence or vehicle registration waived
- Learner drivers won’t have to pay costs to renew learner licences renewed until they can book a practical driving test.