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:


  1. Peak fares should only start at 7am as they do in Melbourne. Services are certainly not 'peak' at 5:30am, but are charged as though they are.

    I do not see the difference overall for using finish instead of starting time. Surely it works both ways. You give an inbound morning peak example.

    But under your system, if I travel from Ferny Grove to Central at 3:28pm and finish at Central at 4pm, I would get charged peak fares. But under the current system, it would be off peak for the whole journey.

    Please explain how your system is better?

    In regards to peak/off peak travel, I think it should be as follows:

    1) Peak flow direction only (all counter flow travel is off peak)- Reason being is that if you are travelling counter flow, then in almost all circumstances you are only getting off peak services (or even worse on FG line)

    2) Peak time should be 7am to 8:30am and 5pm to 6:30pm. Services outside of these times usually are no better than off peak.

    3) Eliminate the nine then free travel and drop the fares accordingly, probably by about half to compensate.

    With the 9 then free system in place, not only does it encourage Fare box leakage, but also it distorts the statistics of who is usually which services. People would be catching services for no other reason than to get to their 10th journey.

    The final sentence about stage 2 timetables is a blatant admission that nothing had been done about it before now, which is what I had been saying all along :)

  2. I think you'll find the Stage 2 timetables have been drafted already and were on hold, according to my source at TransLink. There was some concern about features of the timetable which may need to have been "digested" by the politicos before they saw the need.

  3. About your points:
    1. Not sure that's workable. If I got on a train just after 7am at Varsity Lakes I could still arrive at Central after 8:30. Most of the travel was in peak, so surely the ticket should be for peak. What's more, I can immagine to pool of people waiting in Central for the clock to tick over before they swipe out. That isn't possible based on a "start time" concept. RE 2AM start - agreed - and unless they are putting full "peak" services on at 2AM (i.e. every 15 mins from the Gold Coast), then they shouldn't charge peak service rates at that time.
    2. Agreed, but on the bright side I've gone from not being able to get a seat to ALWAYS being able to get a seat on the train. So another 7.5% increase will mean I get my pick of seats. The only down side is that I've got to pay an extra $350 a year (or there abouts). If given the option I'd pocket the money and stand.
    3. Agreed. Whenever I can I try and take short trips because each short trip saves me about $7. Given just a couple of short trips I can save hundreds of dollars a month. I'm not able to do this very often, so I normally only save $10-$20 a month. Even so, give us the right to buy season travel passes instead and block the loopholes.

  4. Thought I should share the following.

    When BCC announced their proposed changes and handed their review into the state government which was accepted by the thorougly craven Scott Emerson, I wrote the following letter to my local ward Councilor, Cr Geraldine Knapp.

    Good Morning Cr Knapp

    I wish to voice my concerns over the recommendations of the Brisbane City Council Bus review. Whilst the earlier translink review was not perfect, its recommendations at least would have led to better services within the Gap Ward, the BCC review, however does not. Before I begin, I did respond to the proposed changes via the translink feedback page set up for it, and before the deadline so this is no after the horses bolted protest.

    1) The cuts to the 379, 380 and 381 which, in the review, have been cut back to hourly services during off peak weekly services - how is this going to improve network efficiency reliability?

    2) Why keep the 385 as high frequency route, why not junk it and make one of the waterworks road routes a buzz service (as was mooted in the original review) Waterworks road as an arterial needs a buzz service running between the city and the Gap Shopping Village.

    3) Too many buses going into the city. Not enough cross suburb services and when these exist too infrequent - something I might add the BCC review does not improve. At least the earlier translink review had a way of dealing with that.

    4) This is the SE Qld review since when does BCC speak for Morton Bay or Redlands?

    I was very annoyed at the results of the BCC review. especially the cuts to the Waterworks Road services. 99% custs with no network improvement = an administration that does not take the bus service seriously. Maybe its about time Brisbane Transport was taken out of the hands of council and the amateurs who sit on the Transport Committee. This is no way to run a transport network.

    As I said at the beginning of my letter, I responded to the review via the feedback form expressing my opposition to the changes (I was a supporter of the original proposal), and I am still opposed to them. BCC can do better, a lot better. I ask, Cr Knapp, that you make a representation to Cr Quirk seeking to reverse the cuts to the 3 Waterworks Road services (379,380,381) as these will not improve either service delivery, reliability or effieciency. It is a retrograde step which I am surprised was suggested in the first place.

    Yours faithfully

    Lachlan Paff

    PS: I sent a letter to the Premier as these cuts relate to his electorate (another thing I am surprised at. Is Cr Quirk going out his way to aggravate the Premier? If he is, he's onto a good start.

    Unfortunately I have recieved no reply. Therefore I followed up with this latest email:

    Dear Cr Knapp

    Your lack of response to the email I sent early in June (see below) only proves to me that you have no commitment to public transport, nor any commitment to stand up against proposed cuts to services in your ward as proposed by BCC and to be implemented as of October this year. Should I not recieve a reply to this emial, I will contact Quest newspapers and see what they think of this situation. "Local Councilor Deserts Ward on Public Trasnport" would make a good headline wouldn't it?


    Lachlan Paff

    I also included a copy of the original email. I hope this ruffles her feathers a bit. Her silence on proposed cuts to services in her area has, to my mind, been instructive. I think the good councilor has been in too long and has forgotten that she has a responsibility to her constituents first, her party second. It also says that she does not take public transport issues in her ward seriously.

  5. Update. Cr Knapp offered to ring me on Tuesday after receiving the email. As she already had my home number, I gave her office my mobile as well. It's friday night and I have still not heard from her.

  6. L Paff, the next stage is to arrange a meeting at her office. Get a specified appointment time and date in writing.

  7. Update. Getting tired of not hearing from Cr Knapp's office, I rang them today and spoke to her ward secretary. She promised to have the Cr ring me on Thursday. I asked why it had taken so long to get an acknowledgement of my original email (8 weeks). She said the Cr was busy with development applications. I told her that Premier Newman's office got back to me in three weeks and that he ran the state. The woman on the other end of the phone seemed rather miffed at that. I have now also emailed the Lord Mayor as well this evening, but considering how he was the one behind these rather parochial decisions I am expecting a letter with more bullshit that I expect to find at the ekka on Thursday.

  8. Update, finally some action. Cr Knapp is to see me on Friday regarding this issue of the cutbacks to services in her ward. I have a 3pm appointment. Will let you know what the results are.


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