Sunday, February 23, 2014

Are commuters being defrauded by TransLink?

There have been reports on Rail Back on Track's forum of a bus driver accusing go card rorters of committing fraud. Taking advantage of the dumber than dumb "9 then free" go card fare policy is not fraud, as long as you use your own go card card, and only use one card per trip. However, BrizCommuter can see many examples where it could be argued that the commuters are being defrauded by TransLink, or in one case by Airtrain. 

Paper tickets - It seems that TransLink are still quite happy to sell paper tickets despite the fact that they are approximately 30% more expensive than the already extortionately priced go card fares. TransLink do not seem to be making enough effort in trying to get passengers to use the lowest priced fare option - for example a promotional go card leaflet should be handed out with all paper tickets, and go cards should be able to be purchased on buses and from ticket machines. 

"Return" paper tickets - BrizCommuter was recently contacted by a commuter who had forgotten her go card and had to purchase a paper ticket to travel across Brisbane from zone 2 to zone 2 via zone 1. This two trip bus journey required a change in zone 1. It should have been possible to do this journey on one paper ticket. Unfortunately the bus driver for the second trip made the commuter purchase a second paper ticket, claiming that the commuter was trying to make a "return" journey on one ticket. It is only a return journey if you start and finish from the same destination, and thus the commuter was incorrectly make to purchase a second paper ticket. This cost the commuter $12.20 instead of the go card fare of $4.14. This is quite disgusting, and even worse, it took four weeks for the commuter to eventually get a refund from TransLink.

Airtrain fare premium -If you travel to Brisbane Airport you are charged a significant sum ($16.50) to travel on Airtrains's tracks between Eagle Junction and Domestic or International stations. However, if you touch on at the start of your journey, and touch off at the Airport you are also charged a premium fare for the rest of your journey on Queensland Rail's tracks. Thus it is cheaper when travelling to the Airport to touch off and back on again at Eagle Junction. An example below using off-peak fares:

Coopers Plains to Domestic Airport = $23.70
Coopers Plains to Eagle Junction, then Eagle Junction to Domestic Airport $3.93 + $16.50 = $20.43

BrizCommuter suggests that Airtrain passengers should request a fare adjustment from TransLink for this unscrupulous Airtrain fare anomaly. 

No automatic fixed fare adjustment - In London, the Oyster Card system is intelligent enough to correct fixed fares. For example if a commuter has a trip from A to B, and then B to A, but the touch off at B during the first journey failed, then the system will at the end of the day "guess" that the first journey was from A to B, and adjust the fare accordingly. London's Oyster Card is made by Cubic, who also make TransLink's go card equipment. Unfortunately, in SE Queensland, the go card system doesn't automatically correct fixed fares. Thus commuters given fixed fares due to the failure of Cubic's go card readers and fare gates have to manually claim for a fare adjustment. Unfair! 

Limited fixed fare adjustments - BrizCommuter has been contacted by a commuter to whom TransLink's customer service centre refused to give a fixed fare adjustment claiming that you "couldn't have more than two adjustments within a month". This is completely incorrect, and disgraceful behaviour from TransLink. The go card readers are so unreliable, that some BrizCommuter readers have even commented that they have had to make two fixed fare adjustment claims in one day! 

Brisbane Ekka holiday - On the Brisbane Ekka public holiday, a weekend off-peak train service is operated. But if you travel in weekday peak period times, you will be charged peak fares for an off-peak service. 

Dubious fare boundaries - The route 77 does not stop in zone 1, travelling from Windsor to Buranda via the Clem 7 road tunnel. Despite this, TransLink charge a zone 1 fare for travelling 60m under zone 1. Hmm. Another anomaly if travelling from RCH Herston or RBWH to Northern Suburbs via Normanby. All of these busway stations are on the zone 1/2 border, which should avoid a zone 1 fare. However, QUT Kelvin Grove in between RCH Herston and Normanby is placed in zone 1, which results in commuters making this journey being charged a zone 1 fare. This is despite QUT Kelvin Grove being further away by road from the CBD than both RCH Herston and Normanby. Hmm, again!

So it seems that whilst SE Queenslander's are having to put up with some of the most expensive public transport fares in the world, that they are also: 
  • Not being sufficiently encouraged to use the cheapest fare option
  • Being mis-sold extra paper tickets on buses
  • Being ripped off when travelling on Queensland Rail tracks to/from Brisbane Airport
  • Having to manually claim back fixed fares due to dodgy go card readers
  • Being denied the ability to claim back fixed fares
  • Being charged peak fares for an off-peak train service
  • Having to put up with dubious fare boundaries
  • Being accused of fraud by a bus driver for making legal use of the flawed "9 then free" policy
Does anyone know a good class action lawyer?


  1. In regards to route 77, when route 77 was first running, it was indeed zone 2 to zone 2, then it was changed to zone 1. I rang up and questioned this heavily and pointed out at what point in the route can I get off in zone 1 and other various arguments.

    This was at the time when there was no stop at O'Keefe Street. So the bus used to run direct from Windsor to Buranda.

    I never did get a satisfactory answer to my questions and arguments, mainly because there isn't one. The fact that on the route 77 timetables they have to spell out that that even though you go zone 2 to zone 2 but do not even get to see zone 1, you still get charged for it, is a clue that it is a blatant rip off.

    The QUT Kelvin Grove zone 1 rip off is a legacy from when the INB was only Roma Street, QUT KG and RBH, there was no Normanby and RCH. So at that time having QUT at zone 1 was not such a drama as the next stop was Roma Street and so it looked 'logical'.

    But now with the Normanby stop being a 1/2, having QUT as a zone 1 is a complete rip off and I have been stung many times, sometimes even forgetting about it.

    The reason for why this is most annoying, not just for cost, is about system operation. In my opinion, a public transport system should try and keep people from having to connect at the same point, if possible. This means trying to avoid funnelling people from various directions to the same point to connect with other services.

    This is where Normanby comes in. I used to regularly want to catch a 330/340 etc from Chermside and try and decide where to change to the train. Depending on what else I wanted to do, Normanby was quite convenient. But then I would get stung for travelling through QUT KG. So this means on the fare system, I could have continued onto Roma Street or King George Square for the same price, all because of the absurdity of QUT.

    With this travel plan, the system should encourage the customer to change at Normanby and avoid the city by having QUT as zone 2. So this means Normanby should be zone 2, or better still, zone 1 is pushed much further out from the city.

    After getting stung about the tenth time for this, I rang translink and complained and asked why is QUT KG a zone 1 stop. It took me about ten minutes just to explain to the customer service representative why this was a rip off. That is how long it took him to wake up to this scam.

    Shows how much they know about their own system.

    Again, I never did get a proper explanation to this either. Just information saying thank you for your feedback, we are working to enhance the network and your feedback and has been taken on board.

    And still each day customers are ripped off!!

  2. Yes, we're being defrauded.

    Despite catching the same buses every day, I'm randomly charged either one zone or two zones of travel. This month alone I've been overcharged almost $13, always in $0.49 to $0.61 increments. Filling out the godawful fare adjustment form on their website just took me over 30 minutes, which always makes me question if it's worth the effort. At least one in three refunds doesn't come through without my having to call them directly and ask why not.

    The onus is entirely on me to deal with their overcharging. I've asked Translink repeatedly to look into the issue of why I'm charged for two zones roughly half the time, and they always respond with "we'll look into it"...and twelve months later I'm still having to chase up refunds at my expense.


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