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?

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Train etiquette - super simple stuff (2)

Yes, BrizCommuter has far too much time on his hands!

Feel free to share on Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, by Telegram, etc.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Train etiquette - super simple stuff (1)

Yes, I know, BrizCommuter has missed the fake train etiquette poster thing by a few years! Feel free to share on Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, by Morse Code, etc. 

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Name the Brisbane Underground Bus and Train tunnel

The Queensland Government has launched a competition to name what is currently known as the Brisbane Underground Bus and Train Project (AKA Brisbane Underground). If you want to enter, the link is below:

The rules are below:

"To ensure your entry is valid your name will need to meet the following guidelines. It should be:

  • simple, and explains the purpose of the infrastructure
  • no more than 5 words
  • no acronyms
  • pronounceable
  • non-offensive
  • original and not too similar to an dxi
  • sting name
  • non-commercial (names of a commercial nature are not allowed)
  • supported by an explanation of why this name should be chosen (100 words or less).

Submissions close 12.00pm, Sunday 23 February 2014."

The rules unfortunately rule out most of BrizCommuter's suggestions. Oh well, with a little help from a thesaurus, here are some names for the tunnel that won't win the competition:
I need a name!

  • Funding Black Hole
  • The Bikie Gun Barrel
  • Newman's Tube of Power
  • The Hicksville Hole
  • TransLink's Burrow of Mediocrity
  • Sir Joh Bjelke Petersen Tunnel - actually that could win with Campbell in charge
Just in case anyone needs some sensible ideas, here are some recent or upcoming rail tunnel names from around the world:
  • CrossRail (London)
  • Meteor "M√ČTro Est-Ouest Rapide" (Paris)
  • Fukutoshin Line "Secondary City Centre"  (Toyko)
  • Downtown Line (Singapore)
  • Citybanan (Stockholm)
  • City Tunnel (Liepzig) 
  • Jubilee Line (London)
  • Second Avenue Subway (NYC)
The lucky winner will win a go card with $3000 of credit, which given the current fares should last about 2 peak journeys. 

Friday, February 7, 2014

Another accident waiting to happen

The potentially dangerous junction at Normanby
As many BrizCommuter readers will know, BrizCommuter predicted the Cleveland station train vs toilet crash as an "accident waiting to happen". Now BrizCommuter highlights another accident that is waiting to happen.

Many bus routes including the 325, P343, 345, 357, and 390 enter and exit the Inner Northern Busway at Normanby. To access the busway from Kelvin Grove Road, the buses have to cross a busy off-ramp (slip road) coming off the Inner City Bypass. Buses exiting the busway have to turn onto the off-ramp, crossing both lanes of traffic. With this intersection being un-signalled, and the speed of cars coming up the off-ramp from the Inner City Bypass, this is a bus vs car accident just waiting to happen. BrizCommuter has already seen a few near misses, and cars regularly have to brake to allow the buses to cross in front of them. A car vs bus accident in the peak period, when many passengers are standing could result in multiple injured passengers.

So what can be done. Given that grade separating the junction would be very expensive, maybe a signalled intersection is required and/or lower speed limits on the off-ramp? Lets hope something is done before there is an accident.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Outbreak of "I want an express to my stationitis" in Ferny Grove

23 minute gap caused by an express
It was to be expected, but there has been an outbreak of "I want an express to my stationitis" at Ferny Grove since the sector 2 train timetables were introduced on the 20th of January 2014. Three letters were published in last weeks North West News, all whinging about the removal of the Ferny Grove Line's grand total of 2 express services per peak.

Here is BrizCommuter's guide as to why the express services were abolished:

  • The sector 2 timetables are based around a recurring 15 minute cycle in the peak period.
  • In the am peak, and majority of the pm peak, the Ferny Grove Line has 2 trains services per 15 minute cycle. These services have specific slots through the CBD in between services on the Airport, Shorncliffe, and Doomben Lines. 
  • If a Ferny Grove Line service was to run express, it would take up 2 slots instead of 1 as it runs slightly faster. 
  • This would result in service gaps of up to 22-23 minutes instead of 7-8 minutes for non-served stations - that's a 15 minute longer wait for some passengers so that others can get to work a few minutes faster!
  • It would also result in service gaps of up to 15 minutes instead of 7-8 minutes for stations served by the expresses - that's a 7-8 minute longer wait for passengers who use stations served by the express service so that they can get to work a few minutes faster! 
  • Just 1 express per hour would reduce the capacity of the line and trains per hour figure by 12.5%. 
  • 2 expresses per hour would reduce the capacity of the line and trains per hour figure by 25%.
  • The Ferny Grove Line is only 16km long, shorter than many metro lines around the world, and is thus too short to realistically justify an express service. 
  • The old timetable had just 1 express service per hour, which was not useful to anyone travelling on the other services. Only an idiot would plan their life around an hourly express service. 
So as you can see, express services on the Ferny Grove Line are not justified, and commuters still wanting an express service to and from Ferny Grove are quite frankly selfish.

Recent outbreaks of "morning 3-car-itis", and "15 minute gap before the 5:26pm fever" are however entirely justified.