Monday, January 14, 2013

Get Smart - smart card daily and weekly options

Queensland Rail - too expensive!
In the 2013 World Fare Comparison, it was obvious that TransLink's go card fare structure is in need of improvement. It is likely that the flawed go card project failed to purchase the functionality modules for more advanced fare structures such as zone based capping, leaving SE Queensland commuters with no daily capping (unless you are a senior), and weekly capping after 9 single journeys irrespective of zones used (which can be rorted by longer distance commuters).

In this blog post BrizCommuter takes a look at what daily, weekly, and monthly capping options are available with a selection of other smart card systems. For each smart card electronic ticketing option, it is mentioned how many zones are used, transport modes the ticket is valid on, whether the ticket is automatic "capped" or manually "pre-loaded", as well as single trip equivalence.

London - Oyster Card (9 zones tube/1 zone bus)

Off peak cap - all modes - capped - equivalent to 3.3 off-peak singles (zone 1-2)
Peak cap - all modes - capped - equivalent to 3 peak singles (zones 1-2)
Daily cap - bus only - capped - equivalent to 3.1 singles
Weekly travelcard - all modes - pre-loaded - equivalent to 10.9 peak tube singles (zone 1-2)
Monthly travelcard - all modes - pre-loaded 41.7 peak tube singles (zone 1-2)
Yearly, and bus only periodicals also available. "Pay as you go" credit can be used if you travel outside of zones specified in pre-loaded tickets.

Oslo - Travelcard (3 zones)

24 hour ticket - all modes - pre-loaded - equivalent to 2.8 singles (zone 1)
7 day ticket - all modes - pre-loaded - equivalent to 8.2 singles (zone 1)
30 day ticket - all modes - pre-loaded with auto renewal - equivalent to 23 singles (zone 1)
Yearly option also available. "Pay as you go" credit can be used if you travel outside of zones specified in pre-loaded tickets. No capping options. 

Melbourne - Myki (2 zones)

Daily - all modes - capped - equivalent to 2 singles
Weekend daily - all modes & zones - capped - equivalent to 1 zone 1 single!
7 day pass - all modes - pre-loaded - equivalent to 10 singles
28-365 day pass - all modes - pre-loaded - equivalent to 1.22 singles/day
"Pay as you go" credit can be used of you travel outside of zones specified in pre-loaded tickets.

Perth - SmartRider (9 zones singles, 1 zone daily)

DayRider - all modes & zones - capped - equivalent to 7.7 (2 section) to 1.3 (zone 9) singles post 9am
No weekly, monthly, or pre-loaded options. Single fares relatively low priced.

Stockholm - SL Access (3 zones singles, 1 zone periodicals) 

24 hour - all modes & zones - pre-loaded - equivalent to 4.6 (1 zone) to 2.3 (3 zone) singles
72 hour - all modes & zones - pre-loaded - equivalent to 9.2 (1 zone) to 4.6 (3 zone) singles
7 days - all modes & zones - pre-loaded - equivalent to 12 (1 zone) to 6 (3 zone) singles
No capping options. 24 and 72 hour tickets are hour, not day based. 

Auckland - AT Hop (8 zones for singles, 3 zones for monthly)

Monthly - train, and bus in CBD - pre-loaded - Zone A equivalent to 75 (1 stage) to 23.8 (4 stage) singles, Zone B equivalent to 37.7 (4 stage) to 23.8 (7 stage) singles.
No capping options. No smart card daily or weekly options (yet to be introduced). 

The above information sheds some interesting light on these smart card fare systems:
  • Fare zone consolidation - Perth (daily) and Stockholm (24 hour, 72 hour, and 7 day) consolidate all single fare zones into one when it comes to periodicals. Auckland consolidates 8 fare zones into 3 for monthly tickets. This simplifies the fare system (and smart card application engine), but is somewhat biased in savings which favour longer distance commuters.
  • Single equivalence - the equivalence to single journeys is quite variable due to fare zone consolidation and peak/off-peak status. For daily/24 hour tickets the cost generally varies between 2 to 4.6 singles (and between 1.3 to 7.7 singles in Perth after 9am). For weekly tickets the cost varies between 6 to 12 singles (both extremes in Stockholm). For monthly tickets the cost varies between 23 to 75 (both extremes in Auckland).
  • Pre-loaded vs capped - for daily tickets there is a mix of pre-loaded and capped options in the sampled cities. For weekly and monthly options, all are pre-loaded. Oslo has 30 day tickets that automatically renew, in a similar fashion to auto top-up which is available as an option in most cities. Are half-decent methods of weekly and monthly capping too complicated? (Note: Brisbane's flawed method of weekly capping!) Or do passengers and transit authorities prefer the predictable but resource intensive method of pre-loading?
So which city has the best smart card system? There is no definitive answer, and the following is based on BrizCommuter's opinion. BrizCommuter has previously lived in London, and has since visited as a tourist. As a commuter BrizCommuter liked the predictable nature of pre-loaded weekly tickets, and as a tourist likes the ease of the daily capping. BrizCommuter also likes Melbourne's system, with well priced daily capping at 2 single equivalence (for zones used), a pre-loaded weekly (10 single equivalence), 28-365 day periodical options, and the very cheap weekend fare at 1 single equivalence. Unfortunately Melbourne's fare structure cannot be directly transferable to Brisbane, due to lack of off-peak/peak differentiation and SE Queensland having considerably more zones than Melbourne. Perth lacks weekly options, and the daily capping is poor value for money for short distance users. However the relatively low single fares in Perth mean that it is more difficult to rack up high fares for multiple use in a week, than it is in Brisbane. 

What should be used in Brisbane? The go card's method of capping after a set number of journeys irrespective of zones travelled or peak/off-peak status is flawed. Thus for any decent fare structure (capping based on zones used), more functionality will need to be purchased by a state government that is currently rather spending phobic - so BrizCommuter is pessimistic about seeing improvements anytime soon. Even then, weekly zone based capping may be too complicated as it doesn't appear to be used elsewhere. If single fares (lowered to be equivalent to peer cities), daily (maybe capped at 2 most expensive fares/day), and weekend fares (capped at most expensive fare/day) are fairly priced, then maybe weekly tickets may not be required? Otherwise a zone based pre-loaded weekly (equivalent to 9 to 10 peak singles) or monthly (equivalent to approx 34 to 38 peak singles) may be required? If weekly capping is an option, then maybe cap at the 9 or 10 most expensive journeys for the week? There are plenty of other alternatives, and BrizCommuter's ideas are just food for thought. However, there is little question that the SE Queensland's fare structure should be attractive and affordable for both infrequent and frequent users, and not be able to be rorted like the current fare structure.

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