Sunday, October 16, 2011

New frequent user discount - Gimmick?

Still too expensive in 2012!
It has been announced today by the Queensland Government, that from the 2nd of January 2012 the go card frequent user discount will change from having a 50% discount, to having free journeys after the 10th journey between Monday and Sunday. As previously planned, the peak fares will also increase by another extortionate 15%. The off-peak fare discount will increase to 20%, but this still means that off-peak fares will still increase by double the CPI. BrizCommuter thinks that the new frequent user discount is a panic move by a Government with failing public transport policies ahead of an election.

So who will benefit? Frequent users who make more than 10 journeys (excluding free travel to sporting events) between Monday to Sunday. Students make up a considerable portion of these users, as many students have to travel to/from university as well as to/from jobs. With all journeys being free after the 10th journey irrespective of zones used, a free weekend trip to the surf on the Gold Coast could be a good use of go card for an inner-city dwelling student!  Which frequent users will not benefit? Shift workers (such as BrizCommuter) who do not always work in a Monday to Sunday pattern. For example when BrizCommuter works a weekend shift, he will usually work 9 days consecutively from Wednesday to Thursday. As the frequent user discount resets on the Sunday evening, then despite 18 journeys across 9 consecutive days, the frequent user discount will not kick into action! The frequent user discount will also not apply for tourists making multiple journeys over a few days, but not making it to the elusive 11th journey. There is still considerable need for daily, and weekly/7-day ticketing options to make public transport use more attractive in SE Queensland for all users.

So will the new frequent user discount help with the rising cost of living? With the 15% fare rise in January 2012, 10 zone 1-2 peak journeys will cost an estimated $35.70. Currently, 10 zone 1-2 peak journeys cost $31.10. With the current 50% discount resulting in weekend off-peak zone 1-2 fares costing $1.33, then unless you made 14 or more journeys between Monday and Sunday, the 2011 fare structure would still be cheaper than the 2012 fare structure. Very few public transport users make 14 journeys in one week, so for the vast majority of public transport users the new fare structure will still result in an overall fare increase putting even more pressure on the hip pocket. With very limited public transport improvements planned for this financial year, the Queensland Government will need to do far more to win back votes from public transport users!

Pollie quote of the week in this press release is from Transport Minister Annastacia Palaszczuk referring to the 20% off-peak discount "This will give people even more of an incentive to travel outside of the peak period and take advantage of the growing number of high frequency bus, train, and ferry services". Ms Palaszczuk, can you please tell use where there have or will be any new high frequency off-peak train services this financial year?

Finally, some food for thought. If you reach your free 11th journey in one week, then statistically you will have had a 33% chance of incurring a $5 to $10 fixed fare!

Update 03/11/2011

Campbell Newman has announced that if elected, the LNP will provide free journeys after the 9th journey instead of the 10th. Whilst this will give benefit to more public transport users, the policy just stinks of political point scoring. There was no announcement of lowering base fares, which are already some of the highest in the world. There was also no announcement of daily ticketing options such as a daily cap, or free journeys after the 3rd for example for tourists. BrizCommuter is very concerned that whoever wins the next election, that public transport users will continue to suffer poor frequency and extortionate fares.

9 comments:

  1. What do you mean by limited service improvements planned for? Since the beginning of this year there have been 5 new BUZ routes (100, 120, 180, 196, 222), and an overhaul of the Ipswich-Caboolture corridor. And soon there will be an overhaul of the Cleveland-Gold Coast/Shorncliffe/Doomben and Ferny Grove corridors, upgrades for the Veolia network (planned for February 2012), further upgrades of the BT network and possibly more that are yet to be seen.

    I'm not sure on the stats but it wouldn't surprise me if shift workers were also in the minority. At the end of the day TransLink and the Governement can only give out so many discounts and free travel while still making sure that the budget is balanced.

    This outcome I'm satisfied with. It's a weekly ticket and if you don't get up to 10 journeys in a week than obviously you were still ripping yourself off (and the PT network you were travelling on) when you were buying the old weekly tickets and not using it it fully for what it was made for.

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  2. Anonymous - the Ipswich-Caboolture corridor improvements were in the last financial year, not the current financial year. The service improvements to the other rail lines are likely to be limited (for example the Ferny Grove Line is slated for only 4 more trains a day, an 8% service improvement, despite fares rising by more than 50% since the last service changes in 2008). This is quite clearly not good enough!

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  3. Anonymous, 222 doesn't really count as it only serves an already well served area and doesn't improve headways noticeably (ignoring the Kismet St stop).

    It's July 2010 since the earlier BUZification of the 412, so given the TL CEO had a brief of creating 100 high frequency routes, the 4 effective routes in around 18 months does fall short.

    Similarly the new Caboolture timetable is an epic fail in my book. Still with 30 minute frequency beyond Northgate. As well the all stopping full time Bowen Hills-Northgate is something I don't agree with BrizCommuter about.

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  4. What is your expectation? A service improvement a week? Or does that only count if you live along that corridor?

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  5. Anonymous - I expect more than a 8% service improvement in 4 years from my >50% fare hike! 15 minute off-peak train services (as originally planned for 2010) would be nice, but even that has now been quietly forgotten about by the Government.

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  6. My expectation was previously competence. But I have learned that won't happen in Brisbane. 222 could count if it used an adjacent stop to the 200 or 204 but it doesn't.

    Urbanlink (4/hour trains) was a promise as far as Strathpine, but they then told the electorate that they didn't want to do it any more.

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  7. As a former Brisbane resident now living in Melbourne, I never cease to marvel at Melbourne's excellent fare structure (automatic daily and weekly capping, plus $3 unlimited travel for everyone on weekends) and comparatively excellent service frequency and coverage. Melbourne's fares are expected to rise by 5-6% each year (double CPI, but still only about a third of Brisbane's planned rises). It seems that the fare structure will continue to remain a major disincentive to improved public transport utilisation in SEQ for some years yet....

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  8. I'm thinking of adding a lunch time trip between Central and Roma St, Mon to Wed so my Thursday morning commute is #10 and I get free travel that afternoon and on Friday. I'd rather walk at lunch time than hang around train stations, but those are big savings (my actual commute is zones 1-8).

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  9. I remember a few months ago when Translink introduced free travel for Seniors and Pensioners using a go card after the 2nd journey of each day. I'm a student with a Concession go card who often makes more than two journeys per day (to and from uni, to and from work and sometimes to and from the local shopping centre for groceries or lunch) - where are my free fares? I've emailed Translink about this and the fact that it is ageist and unfair, after all I'm not exactly made of money! Nothing has been done (the concept described in this blog post is pretty laughable) and I'm sure I'm not alone.

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