TransLink have finally released the very belated Tracker for Q3 2010/11, and this time it seems that some of the data floated away with the floods.
To put figures into perspective, the public transport network was either running at severely reduced frequency, or was free for a period of 10 days. This is 11% of this quarter, for which patronage data was apparently not collected. Going by this statistic, BrizCommuter calculates that for the rest of the quarter bus patronage only increased by a few percent compared to the previous year, and train patronage decreased by a few percent. As usual, TransLink have blamed more accurate go card data in decreasing train patronage statistics. Ferry patronage dropped by approx. 66%, mainly due to no ferry services running for much of the quarter.
The average fare increased by 7.4%, at $1.89. This is an odd statistic given that the fare rises were 15% for peak journeys, and season tickets were eliminated increasing costs further for frequent users. As mentioned on this blog, Brisbane commuters making journeys of around 15km or less are paying some of the highest fares in the world. Can TransLink explain how they came up with their figures?
The average subsidy per trip increased by more than 30%, to $6.68. The percentage of subsidy was also slightly higher than a year ago. Of course, this has been blamed on the floods, rather than government's abysmal policy of high fares and lack of service improvements which are discouraging public transport use.
Train and bus on-time running has marginally increased. However, does anyone know when the goalposts were moved for the Sunshine Coast and Gold Coast Line's reliability from 4 to 6 minutes? Funnily enough, one of SE Queensland's most pressing public transport issues - full buses, doesn't even get mentioned in the TransLink tracker! Complaints have decreased, possibly due to more commuters finding that complaining to TransLink is a futile experience.
Thanks to the phasing out of periodical ticketing forcing more users to use the go card, go card usage increased by 20%. There is still a scary 25% of public transport users paying for extortionately priced paper tickets. TransLink are quite obviously not doing enough to attract all paper ticket users to use the go card, but this is not surprising as these paper ticket users are significantly contributing to TransLink's bank balance. More than 3.5% of journeys result in a fixed fare, but only 0.05% of journeys resulted in a fixed fare adjustment. This means that many customers are getting fixed fares, more often than not due to no fault of their own, and not getting a refund. It is still difficult to find how to get an online adjustment on TransLink's website.
So with a 15% fare rise at the start of this quarter was there a 15% service improvement? Train service kilometres increased by less than 1% in the last year. Buses increased by only 5%. No actual figures were quoted for the place kilometres statistic, but by looking at the graphs, any increases were marginal. These statistics were prior to the phase one timetables in June, but included the 301,000 extra seats allegedly added last year and the interim Richlands Line service. It is very clear that SE Queensland commuters are not getting value for money when it comes to service improvements.
Translink's lack of transparency becomes worse, as train passenger loads from QR's twice yearly manual counts have now also become secret. The results of the whole QR passenger load survey have also not been publicly available since 2009. Both actual patronage numbers, and percentage increase or decrease have been completely eliminated from this TransLink tracker. It should be noted that these figures taken in March would not have been affected by go card data, or the floods. Morning peak overcrowding has increased on the Beenleigh, Caboolture, Cleveland, Doomben (!!), Ipswich, Shorncliffe, and Gold Coast Lines. Overcrowded evening peak services increased by 50% on the Sunshine Coast Line, and 100% on the Gold Coast Line (150% increase for those standing beyond Beenleigh). It will be interesting to see how these figures will be affected by the phase one timetables launched last month. For commuters on train lines awaiting the 2012 phase two timetables, improvements to peak services cannot come soon enough!