Back to the city: Premier wants more public servants in the CBD

As people continue to work from home, Brisbane’s public transport network is collecting around $10 million less in fares every month.

May 12, 2021, updated May 12, 2021
Commuter transport is operating well below capacity as the CBD awaits the return of public servants (File image).

Commuter transport is operating well below capacity as the CBD awaits the return of public servants (File image).

The Queensland Public Service Commission publicly supported departments wanting to apply more pressure, but not yet force, staff to return to their CBD offices.

In parliament this morning, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk agreed it was time.

Palaszczuk said getting public servants back in the CBD would help address the concerns of inner-city businesses and lobby groups about a drop in foot traffic and turnover.

“It means more people buying a coffee in the morning supporting local cafes, more people buying a meal supporting local bistros and more people doing a spot of shopping during their lunch break supporting local retailers,” Palaszczuk said.

“It means more Queenslanders supporting Queensland businesses.

“This will also send a clear message to private sector businesses based in the CBD that now is the time to return to working in the CBD.”

There have been estimates of 10-50 per cent of public servants working from home during the pandemic, and even more during periods of lockdown.

Translink figures show revenue fare revenue from the train, bus and ferry network has been down around $10 million a month on pre-pandemic figures. In February, Translink collected only $18.7 million in fares, compared to $29.5 million in the same month the year before.

A Property Council survey found the office occupancy level had stagnated at 60 per cent in April, prompting the organisation’s deputy executive director, Jen Williams, to welcome any moves to encourage people to be in the CBD.

“All businesses in the CBD are interrelated and largely reliant on office workers,” Williams said.

“From dry cleaners to take away outlets, to electronic scooter companies, everyone relies on the consistent foot traffic that workers generate.”

Palaszczuk said it was about “Queenslanders supporting Queensland businesses”.

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