Sunday, January 9, 2011

Brisbane vs Perth vs Melbourne

Melbourne train at night
Lets take a look at the price and frequency of rail transport in Brisbane compared to Perth and Melbourne. Fares and frequency are as of Monday 17th January, and fares shown are the cheapest available adult fares.

Commuter - 2 peak journeys from station 6km from CBD (Z2 in Brisbane):
Brisbane - $6.22 (based on 2 peak go card fares)
Perth - $6.30 (based on 2 smartrider fares)
Melbourne - $4.98 (based on 365 day myki pass, travelling on 235 days/year)

So for the average commuter, Perth is only slightly more expensive than Brisbane. A typical commuter in Melbourne would pay a dollar less than in Brisbane and Perth each day. You could buy a Freddo with that!

Tourist - 4 journeys after 9am from station 6km from CBD (Z2 in Brisbane):
Brisbane - $10.60 (based on 4 off-peak go card fares)
Perth - $9.00 (based on dayrider fare, or smartrider capped at dayrider fare)
Melbourne - $5.88 (based on capped daily myki money fare)

A tourist making 4 journeys a day would pay the highest fare in Brisbane at $10.60, due to the elimination of the paper daily ticket. Evening peak, extra journeys, or using paper single tickets would push this figure even higher due to lack of capping. This is bad news for tourists to Brisbane, and potentially bad news for Queensland's ailing tourism industry. Don't forget that many of these tourists have to endure Airtrain's huge fares, and infrequent service as well! Perth has a cheaper capped daily fare at $9, and Melbourne has an impressive capped fare of $5.88 using myki. BrizCommuter would like to see daily capping of go card fares to encourage frequent use of public transport for all users. 

Max peak service gap at station 6km from CBD:
Brisbane - 23mins (Doomben Line & Airtrain excluded!)
Perth - 20mins
Melbourne - 20mins

Peak services are difficult to compare, as they can vary between stations and lines. Long gaps between services deter the use of public transport. Brisbane has peak service gaps of up to 23 minutes on some major lines, even at inner-city stations. The minor Doomben Line has peak gaps of more than 45 minutes! Melbourne and Perth have no gaps at inner-city stations of more than 20 mins. Given the yearly 15% fare hikes in Brisbane, it is not unreasonable to expect significant peak frequency improvements soon. The max 12 minute peak service gap in the draft 2011 Caboolture and Ipswich Line timetable is welcome, lets hope that significant improvements are made to peak timetables on the rest of Brisbane's rail network by late 2011. 

Branch midday frequency at station 6km from CBD:
Brisbane - 15 to 30mins
Perth - 15mins
Melbourne - 15 to 20mins

Despite Brisbane having the highest fares for tourists, it has the worst off-peak frequencies at 30 minutes on most lines. The forthcoming 15 minute off-peak from CBD to Darra will be an improvement, but given the above fare comparison, commuters and tourists deserve a 15 minute off-peak frequency on all lines. Both Perth and Melbourne manage 15 to 20 minute off-peak frequencies on all lines. Melbourne's operator Metro Trains would like a 10 minute off-peak frequency!

Sunday 8am inbound frequency at station 6km from CBD:
Brisbane - 30 to 60mins
Perth - 15 to 30mins
Melbourne - 30mins

You may be seeing a trend here. Brisbane is again bottom of the pile, with hourly gaps between trains at 8am on a Sunday morning on some lines. Yet, in Melbourne trains are every 30 minutes, and some lines in Perth even have a 15 minute frequency at this time.

The results are pretty conclusive, that for rail services, Brisbane's rail users are not getting value for money compared to Perth and Melbourne. There needs to be significant improvements to both peak and off-peak frequencies in Brisbane as soon as possible. Otherwise commuters and students will be further deterred from using public transport, and tourists may even be deterred from visiting Brisbane! If service improvements continue to lag far behind fare increases, could Brisbane commuters bring a class action against TransLink?

1 comment:

  1. Just pointing out an error in your calculations, in Perth you would still be in Zone 1 6km away from the CBD... not zone 2 as the quotes fare allows for - makes Brisbane seem even worse value!


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