Friday, August 3, 2012

Still un-fare!

Mediocre fare structure
By all accounts, the recent move to the 9 journey cap for go card users has been a huge success, with 75,000 users taking advantage of the free fares after the ninth, and those users averaging 2.2 free trips. The ministerial statement is below:

The downside, is that this may cause yet more farebox revenue leakage, a huge problem when Brisbane already has a whopping 75% public transport subsidy. This farebox leakage due to the 9 journey cap could reach $30m, equivalent to adding 15 minute off-peak services on two more train lines. There is something seriously wrong when the fares are high, the subsidy is high, and the product - the public transport service - is so shoddy. The previous ALP governments failed attempt to reducing subsidy by increasing fares, just turned public transport users back to their cars, thus reducing the fare income. The current LNP government still plan on extortionate 7.5% annual fare hikes which will continue to make public transport less affordable and less attractive.

What can be done to reduce this mess? Firstly, the public transport network needs to be made more efficient. Better use of resources, infrastructure, and staff whilst making public transport use more attractive (higher frequency core bus and train routes). The new LNP government has started on this, but considerably more needs to be done including sorting out Brisbane Transport! Secondly, the fare structure needs to be an attractive alternative to using a car. BrizCommuter suggests using a fare structure similar to that utilised on London Underground (Oyster Card) with single fares, weekly/monthly/yearly zone based passes, and automatic daily zone based capping. The London Underground fare page is here:
  • Replace 9 journey cap with a zone based weekly/monthly/yearly pass equivalent to 9 peak journeys/week for chosen zones - The current 9 journey cap allows the system to be abused by longer distance commuters (notably Sunshine Coast and Gold Coast Line users) who gain at least 1 free long distance journey in a typical working week, or more if they make extra short journeys in their lunch break. A go card based weekly pass would not allow this abuse of the fare system. With this system, occasional single fares outside of the purchased zones are automatically deducted from go card credit as single journey extensions. 
  • Zone based daily journey cap (does not apply to passengers with weekly pass) - Off-peak and peak period zone based caps priced between 3 and 4 single journeys. If the cost of the combined single journeys matches or exceeds the relevant cap, you pay no more. Useful for tourists! 
  • Single journey zone based fares restructured -  currently inner-suburban commuters pay the worlds 3rd highest fares, which is deterring public transport use, whilst outer suburban commuters pay cheaper fares than many major international cities. The fare structure needs to make using public transport more attractive to inner-suburban commuters who have considerably more environmentally sustainable lifestyle choices (i.e. living closer to work) than highly subsidised longer distance commuters.
  • Limit fare rises - enough is enough! Fare rises should be no more than public servant wage increases.


  1. A 75% subsidy seems crazy to me. I was paying over $70 a week going to the city from Caboolture station a week (it's less to drive).
    My question is where is the money going?
    From my experience with Translink, I would say it's their inability to listen to their customers.
    Just look at the four million dollar Park and ride at Bribie Island which usually has on average five cars a day use it.
    After major timetable changes on the Island which sees a journey from Brizzie to Banksia Beach increase by almost an hour in travel time in the evening you've got to wonder who's running the show.
    After a huge number of complaints about the new timetables (about a dozen emails from myself to local government members and translink themselves) they still ignored all of them. The local paper still has articles about the public transport issues two years on.
    But what can you do... not much by the look of it.
    I tell you if I owned a company that spent four million on something like the Bribie park n ride only to find five cars a day using it I'd want to know what the hell went wrong!

  2. Sadly, very true. TransLink fail to respond to customer complaints and needs. TransLink are QR have made some very bad decisions in the last few years that only seem to deter public transport use. Will things change? We will have to wait and see.

  3. Simple. The money is going to the bonuses given to Translink staff. Definitely not back into the service.


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