Saturday, December 11, 2010

Is TransLink discouraging the use of public transport?

Cultural Centre Busway Station
Public transport authorities are meant to promote the use of public transport. However, in SE Queensland, this seems to not be the case. Lets have a look at am peak rail patronage growth in the last few years (based on head count figures from the QR March 2009 Passenger Load Survey and TransLink Tracker Q3 2009-10):

05-06: + 7.6%
06-07: + 9.1%
07-08: + 5.0%
08-09: + 5.2%
09-10: - 4.4% (yes, that's negative!)

So after many years of significant growth, the rail patronage plummeted in March 2010. Overall public transport patronage also decreased by 1% in Q3 2009-10. Even a slight overall patronage improvement in Q1 2010-11 figures of 2.7% are still well behind previous growth. Given SE Queensland's rising population, how can this stunting of public transport patronage occur?

The answer is pretty obvious to anyone who uses public transport - huge fare rises, and minimal improvements to services. In January 2010, public transport fares increased by between 20-40%. The elimination of weekly, monthly, and yearly tickets seriously hurt the hip pocket of regular commuters. There will be further 15% fare rises every year, for the next few years. Just to make things worse, the daily tickets will be phased out, further discouraging frequent public transport users (including students and tourists). Maybe TransLink should rename the go card, the go car? Many of BrizCommuter's work colleagues who were forced back to their cars due to Inner Northern Busway overcrowding have not returned to using public transport!

Fare rises wouldn't be an issue if public transport was significantly improved. But, it hasn't. Last year TransLink promised 301,000 new seats on public transport, of which 83,400 were to be on rail. TransLink failed to meet this promise for rail, only managing a rather pathetic 30,000 extra seats on rail.  Just to make things worse, these 301,000 extra seats only increased place kilometres on the TransLink network by 5.6%. Yes, you read this correctly, 20-40% higher fares, for just 5.6% improvement in public transport!

It doesn't take a mathematician to work out that next years promise of 305,000 extra seats on public transport will not add up to the 15% increase in fares. It is obvious that the Queensland Government's and TransLink's policies have seriously failed public transport users. To massively increase fares, with little in the way of service improvements, broken promises, and lack of transparency, shows that the Queensland Government and TransLink are treating public transport users with serious contempt.

PS: BrizCommuter will be making a Right To Information request for the full QR March 2010 and 2011 Passenger Load Survey, at the end of Q3 2010-11, so you might as well publish it anyway TransLink.

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