|What happens if you can't access the reader?|
"Just like any other TransLink service, you'll need a valid go card or paper ticket to travel on a bus replacement service during a track closure. If you're using a go card, please touch on and touch off as normal at your station. If you're unable to touch on and touch off due to restricted access to ticketing facilities, you'll need to contact our call centre on 13 12 30 to request a fare adjustment."
TransLink are expecting passengers to touch on and off at the station's go card readers (usually at the entrance to platforms) before boarding a bus. As the buses do not always stop close to the platforms, this can add quite a few minutes to the passengers journey, with an increased risk of missing the infrequent replacement bus. During closures, the go card readers are sometimes inaccessible due to maintenance work, preventing a touch on or off and preventing access to fare machines to top up a go card.
At CBD stations where replacement buses can start such as Roma Street, you cannot touch on or off without passing through a gate. Except, if you've passed through the gate to start your journey as per TransLink's rules, then you have to pass back through the gate to get to the replacement bus, thus cancelling the journey and defeating the object of passing through the gate in the first place. Confused?
Just to makes things worse, if you can't touch on or off, you get a $10 fixed fare, requiring a both time and money consuming phone call to TransLink's call centre to fix (or time consuming online method which TransLink failed to mention above). Fixed fare adjustments can sometimes take up to 10 days, so you will not get the fixed fare back straight away. A return journey following TransLink's above advice could result in $20 of fixed fares plus the cost of the phone call and a premature go card top up - totally unacceptable!
TransLink expectations for go card users utilising rail replacement bus services are unworkable and unreasonable. They also put the public transport user in a very grey legal area - not many judges would understand the complexities of TransLink's go card system either. It would be smart to make rail replacement services free (as per London Underground's replacement buses), and only expect passengers to pay for the fully functioning part of the journey.