Saturday, May 14, 2011

A Fair Go, or a Fine Ticket?

From May 30th TransLink will increase the fixed fare from $5 to $10 on trains, $3 to $5 on buses and ferries, and $30 on the world's worst airport train service.
The fixed fare occurs if a user does not swipe on and off - this may be deliberate, accidental, due to common technical issues such as failed go card readers, or if the journey cancellation time has been exceeded when train services are suspended. From the latest TransLink Tracker it was obvious that there are some serious issues with go card usage. More than 3% of journeys result in a fixed fare. The number of fixed fares was approx. x100 more than the number of fixed fare refunds. This is likely to be due to a combination of fare evasion (as the fixed fare was less than the single fare to many destinations), passengers that have not known that they've incurred a fix fare, and passengers that do know they've incurred a fixed fare but have not claimed a refund for many reasons.

BrizCommuter would like a few questions answered:

  • Will TransLink automatically correct fixed fares caused by known failures or incidents? E.g if a bus go card reader fails during a journey, will all fixed fares due to passengers not being able to swipe off be automatically corrected? Otherwise, could it be argued that TransLink are defrauding passengers by not automatically refunding?
  • What happens if a fixed fare occurs during a transfer through no fault of the passenger, which puts them in negative balance and unable to start the next leg of their journey? Will TransLink leave them behind, or force them to fork out for an overpriced paper ticket?
  • Will TransLink allow people to correct fixed fares caused by genuine forgetfulness? BrizCommuter recently forgot to swipe off after having to fight his way off a dangerously overcrowded route 66 bus before the doors closed!
  • Will TransLink allow people to correct fixed fares caused by them not noticing a red light / "please swipe again" message. These seem to be increasing in frequency!
  • Will TransLink make it easier to find the webpage to claim fixed fare refunds. It recently took BrizCommuter 10 minutes to find the web page!!
  • Will TransLink increase go card use education? BrizCommuter has recently observed passengers swiping on with the same card twice for two passengers, not swiping off for a bus transfer, and trying to swipe the go card against the arrow lights at fare gates. 
  • Whilst TransLink are complaining about how much they are loosing to fare evasion, how much are TransLink making from passengers who have not reclaimed fixed fares incurred through no fault of their own?
Whilst BrizCommuter is strongly against fare evasion, BrizCommuter is not convinced that TransLink are giving law abiding commuters a fair go when it comes to reclaiming fixed fares. The pain caused by go card reader failures, coupled with resulting higher fixed fares, may deter even more passengers from using public transport. 

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