Thursday, June 27, 2013

Fare-ly useless change

The LNP Queensland State Government have recently announced that 2014 public transport fares in SE Queensland will have a minor adjustment to the shambolic and extortionate fare system. The am peak will now end for journeys starting after 8:30am instead of the current 9am.

Whilst this will benefit BrizCommuter who sometimes catches the train at 8:55am, it is just another example of the politicians re-arranging the deck chairs on the titanic known as Brisbane's public transport system.

So what's wrong with this change?

  1. AM peak fares should be based upon journey finish time, not journey start time. For example someone arriving at Central at 8:50am for a 9am work start would get the off-peak fare if they board at Windsor, but not if they board at Mitchelton. The am peak fare period still starts at 2am, which is quite absurd!
  2. The 7.5% fare rise is still in place for 2014, resulting in SE Queensland continuing to have one of the world's most expensive and least affordable public transport systems. This will continue to force commuters away from public transport and increase subsidy. 
  3. The 9 journeys then free cap is still in place, meaning that longer distance commuters who already have a better value for money commute, can continue to rort the fare system. 
This minor fare change is not good enough. A massive redesign of the fare system is required to make public transport affordable and attractive to use. Extra functionality for the go card system needs to be purchased to allow for zone based periodicals (as per most peer cities), and am peak fares based on journey finish time instead of start time. 

There is a glimmer of home in the government statement that draft timetables (? the missing in action QR sector 2 timetables) are finally being worked on, but it is already two years after they should have been introduced. 

The mediocrity of SE Queensland's public transport system continues...

Government statement:

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Pedestrian Level Crossing Survey

Update - this study is now closed

There is an interesting study underway by the Centre for Accident Research and Road Safety Queensland (CARRS-Q) at Queensland University of Technology, entitled Pedestrian Behaviour at Railway Level Crossings. The survey is takes around 15 minutes online, and you get a $20 gift voucher  in return. BrizCommuter isn't sure how long the survey is open for, so get in quick.

The link is below:

Thursday, June 13, 2013

What happens when fares rise in Sao Paulo?

Last updated 18/06/2013 5pm

SE Queensland commuters have suffered from multiple back to back 15 to 20% fare rises, followed by 7.5% fare rises, which have made Brisbane's public transport system one of the world's most expensive to use. These fare rises have accompanied minimal improvements to public transport services. Commuters have voted with their cars, with public patronage in decline or lagging behind population growth.
CC Bruno Fernandes
In Brazil it is a different story when fares are increased. A 6.7% fare rise (actually below inflation) to $1.50 per journey, resulted in 10,000 people marching in central Sao Paulo. This march soon turned into a riot, with 20 people arrested, and damage to public transport infrastructure. In Rio de Janeiro, more than 30 people were arrested after similar riots due to fare increases. Both cities have a more frequent and expansive public transport network than Brisbane, with huge expansion projects in progress ahead of the Football World Cup and Olympics. Of course, it is likely in these cities that less people have the option to drive a car to work.

Follow up marches involving up to 200,000 people have since occurred in multiple Brazilian cities related to public transport fare increases, and football world cup expenditure.

BBC News Story:
Photos in this SkyscraperCity post:

Now, BrizCommuter is certainly not recommending that Brisbane commuters start a riot. However, it does appear that Australians are so politically apathetic, that they let successive governments walk all over them with awful policies. This is compounded by the lack of pro-public transport media (itself a monopoly in Australia). 

It's pretty sad when Brisbane, a city laughably touted by it's council as a "new world city", has a public transport system far worse than many developing cities, and absolutely no sign of improvement. 

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

2013 Brisbane City Council Budget also fails public transport users

Congested SE Busway
Brisbane City Council (BCC) have now handed down their budget for 2013. Key points for public transport are:
  • $16.4m shortfall in funding from state government will result in closure of Bowen Hills and Richlands bus depots, and reduce the number of new buses built per year by 33% from 2015. This may increase dead running (buses running empty out of service), and increase the amount of time to replace the fleet of exploding gas powered buses. A better designed bus network (based on TransLink's dumped network review) instead of the current inefficient and confusing BCC designed mess may have been a better way of saving money. 
  • Funding for new Milton, and upgraded Bulimba CityCat terminals is welcome, as is funding for a new CityCat. 
  • Review of CityCat timetable. BrizCommuter would not be surprised if we see cuts to CityCats services (one of Brisbane's tourist icons) to make up for BCC's bus network wastage. Bad, bad, bad! 
It seems that politicians from both sides are in la la land. 

Team Quirk ‏@Team_Quirk 
LM @Team_Quirk remains committed to World Class Public T'port system - fleet of 1200 buses 100% air cond 90% disability accessible this year

Brisbane does not have a "world class" public transport network. It's based on third world principles (busways), but operated inefficiently, and the 2nd most expensive to use in the world. So maybe a "sub third world" public transport network would be a more appropriate phrase. 

Cr Milton Dick ‏@CrMiltonDick 
Council budget reveals more cuts to Public Transport on the way - paying more getting less. #goingbackwards

True, but your whining was partly responsible for the backlash against TransLink's mainly excellent bus network review that has left us with BCC's mess. 

It is time that Brisbane City Council are completely removed from public transport planning and operation. Brisbane Transport should be privatised (hint: Redland's Transit Systems will be running some London bus routes soon), and TransLink put in charge of network design. Time for Brisbane City Council to stick to trimming trees and cutting grass. 

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

2013 QLD State Budget fails public transport users

Expensive, infrequent, and no sign of improvement
The LNP's 2013 Queensland State Budget is continuing the recent political tradition of deterring public transport use. Fares will increase by yet another extortionate 7.5% in January 2014. This will continue to make Brisbane the world's most expensive public transport system (without a delay refund policy), and the world's least value for money public transport system (in terms of cost vs service frequency). It is likely that patronage will continue to lag behind population growth, increasing the subsidy percentage, and increasing road congestion.

What do we get for this 7.5% fare rise?  There will be double the number of TransLink Transit Officers in an attempt to reduce crime. However, the reality will probably be more innocent people being caught out by the go card system flaws (see last blog post). There is some public transport infrastructure spending, mostly continuation of existing projects such as Moreton Bay Rail Link and Gold Coast Rapid Transit, and Springfield Line. There is also some spending on newer projects such as Next Generation Rolling Stock, and Automatic Train Protection (? on the CityTrain network).  An odd mention is $3.7m towards the Corinda to Darra 3rd track, which was assumed to be already completed. Maybe this is the missing electrification on the 4th track? There are a few bus station upgrades as well. Mayne to Ferny Grove Line track appears to be missing off the infrastructure list. There is no mention of inner city rail capacity solution enhancements. There is also no mention of funding for any planned service improvements such as the unacceptably delayed sector/stage 2 train timetables. Yes, the $100m+ spent on the Ferny Grove Line duplication is still a white elephant!

As expected road infrastructure is not exactly lacking in funding!

It is a shame that the failure of the LNP state government to implement TransLink's revolutionary bus network review is continuing to waste tax payers money on Brisbane City Council's massively inefficient bus network. Queensland Rail also continues to be Australia's least efficient rail operator (cost/km).

To conclude, despite there being a fair amount of infrastructure spending, it appears that in the 2013/14 financial year,SE Queensland commuters will be paying extortionate public transport fares for b****r all service improvements (unless you happen to live in Springfield) .

Here's what's being spent on public transport: