Sunday, May 8, 2011

Long Distance Commuting - Part 2

Tokaido Main Line  CC: Chabata_K
In Part 1 of Long Distance Commuting, it was shown that Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast commuters travelling into Brisbane, are paying considerably less than commuters travelling similar distances into London and Tokyo. Given this recent blog post showing that inner-city Brisbane commuters are paying far more than most of their international counterparts, BrizCommuter decided to investigate whether longer distance commuters are being heavily subsidised by shorter distance commuters and the Queensland taxpayer.

All fares are for the cheapest available turn up and go single fares for peak journeys. London prices are using National Rail fares for 45km and 90km journeys and London Overground Watford Line OysterCard fares for journeys of 5km and 10km unless mentioned otherwise. Tokyo is using Japan Rail (JR) base fares (local and rapid services) unless mentioned otherwise. Fares shown are in Australian Dollars, with exchange rates as of 08/05/2011. Percentage variance to Brisbane fares are shown.

5km peak journey to:
Brisbane - $3.11
London - $3.06   -1.6%
Tokyo - $1.74   -44%

10km peak journey to:
Brisbane - $3.68
London - $4.13   +12%
Tokyo - $2.20   -40%

45km peak journey to:
Brisbane - $6.21
London -  $12.90   +108%
Tokyo - $9.00   +44%
Tokyo (Limited Express) - $23.42   +277%

90km peak journey to:
Brisbane - $10.35
London - $38.86   +275%
London (High Speed 1) - $46.51   +349%
Tokyo - $18.78   +81%
Tokyo (Limited Express) - $35.35   +242%
Tokyo (Shinkansen) - $41.00   +296%

It should be noted that unlike in SE Queensland, season tickets are also available for commutes into London and Tokyo. London's have large potential savings, whilst Tokyo's savings are minimal. On the flip side, daily car park prices at UK train stations also often cost far more than a 90km SE Queensland commute!

It is pretty obvious from these results that Brisbane inner-city commuters are hard done by at the fare box compared to their London and Tokyo counterparts. This situation is made worse by the pretty abysmal rail frequencies to many inner-city destinations. On the other hand, long distance SE Queensland commuters have relatively cheap fares compared to their international counterparts, although their train service isn't particularly great either. So are taxpayers, and those with the common sense to live near to where they work, heavily subsidising those who wish to live the coast lifestyle and commute long distances? Well it certainly seems to be the case. Why should inner-city dwellers be financially punished for those who take advantage of SE Queensland's unsustainable urban sprawl? Certainly questions need to be asked of both TransLink's fare structure, and SE Queensland's urban planning.

This comparison also shows that if Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast commuters wish to have rail infrastructure projects that will result in faster, more frequent, and in the case of the Sunshine Coast more direct services, then maybe the fare structure needs to be re-skewed so that long distance commuters pay more of their share of the fare box?

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