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Sunday, December 28, 2014

Kuttsy's Fare Pitch

The social media hashtags are #offtherails and #kFpitch.

Welcome to something people would have never ever expected. A Kuttsy’s Pitch spin-off: with all the trimmings that has made the concept so great for six years, in being brutally honest about Seven’s woes both at 5:30 and eventually at 6pm. But: there have been some near misses about a spinoff. The GC2018 broadcast piece of two years ago, almost became Kuttsy’s Pitch 4, along with a “Kuttsy’s Pitch 3.5” based on the “Love You Brisbane” campaign, which never made it to full realisation. But the one thing that writing the transport-based sequel to the GC2018 broadcast piece along with a couple of trips to Sydney earlier this year taught me is that QLD’s public transport fares are way too high, especially for distance based travel, compared to the southern states.

The Queensland Rail urban network’s northern outpost, Gympie North (172km from Brisbane’s CBD) currently pays with go card, including the 9 trips & free incentive, $202.25 a week for a adult for travel to the Brisbane CBD, and has access to two services to Brisbane between 6am-9pm Monday to Friday often utilizing electric trains that are approaching 25yrs of service, that were designed for the Spirit of Capricorn between Brisbane-Rockhampton with the quickest travel time into Brisbane by Gympie services at around 3hrs.
In comparison, a NSW TrainLink intercity commuter heading to and from Newcastle/Hamilton (temporary terminus when Newcastle station shuts) stations (168km from Sydney’s Central Station) from Sydney Central, pays a maximum of $60 (a weekly capped fare of all trips made by cost as opposed to trips made, alongside a daily capped fare of $15) on the Opal card and has access to between 6am-9pm M-F 27 regularly scheduled services between Newcastle and Sydney utilizing electric trains that vary in age from 45yrs old (the original V Sets that introduced double deck electric interurban services to NSW), to just under ten (the last OSCARs built just three years ago) with the quickest travel time into Sydney’s CBD from Newcastle being 2hrs 40min.

-and a V-Line commuter to and from Bendigo (162km from the V-Line hub at Southern Cross Station in Melbourne) from Southern Cross Station using a myki pays $137.20 for a 7 day myki pass for a adult, which includes travel in the greater Melbourne area on trains, trams and buses and has access to 14 regularly scheduled commuter services to Southern Cross between 6am-9pm, a number surely to increase with the completion of dedicated track for V-Line services into Melbourne, utilizing DMU’s that vary in age from V-Locity’s just off the production line, to Sprinters, coming up to 20yrs old with the quickest time into Melbourne from Bendigo (thanks to the dedicated track to Southern Cross and rollingstock) is 1hr 44min. The two areas mentioned are roughly the same distance from their capital cities as Gympie North is from Brisbane, but yet why are they so cheap in comparison, for a vastly greater service, delivered faster than Queensland?

Sydney: A third of the way to your Opal daily cap, or, (for 20c more at $5.20) a MyTrain Single from Blacktown to Central, or, a single MyBus3 fare, from Railway Sq to Castle Hill ($4.60, with 40c change), or, a return light rail fare (exactly $5) from Paddy’s Market at Haymarket to Central Station and wouldn’t even get you on a Sydney Harbour ferry.

Melbourne: A 2hr fare in zone 1 on any mode ($3.58 on myki, with no paper ticketing, but Melbourne’s Zone 1 encompasses a huge area), however for a dollar more ($6), it becomes a daily cap for both zone 1 and 2 on weekends/public holidays .

Adelaide: A 2hr fare (anywhere in Adelaide) with a paper Metroticket ($3.20 off-peak with $1.80 change/10c more at $5.10 for peak) or a 2hr fare (once again, anywhere in Adelaide) with a Metrocard ($1.86 for off peak/$3.39 for peak)

Perth: Three zones by cash (30c more, at $5.30, equivalent to a 2hr ticket) and a non-auto topup Smartrider ($4.51, 15% off cash fares) between Perth and Joondalup, or, four zones if you do use auto topup on Smartrider ($4.73 for 2hr fare (25% off cash fares), encompassing the the majority of the Perth public transport network if going from central Perth).

Canberra (ACTION Govt. owned bus network): A single cash fare with free 90min transfer ($4.50 with 50c change) or a MyWay smartcard single trip with a 90min free transfer, as well as capped daily and monthly limits ($2.84 at peak hour, $2.25 all other times)

Hobart (Metro Tasmania bus network): a daily ticket (purchased after 9am, for 30c more at $5.30) or a daily cap post 9am for Greencard smartcard ($4.80)

Darwin (currently in transfer to a private operator) and Alice Springs (whose fare system was recently unified with Darwin's): A single cash fare for 3hrs unlimited travel ($3, with $2 change) or for $2 more, a daily ticket for the entire Darwin/Alice Springs bus network.

Brisbane/SEQ: A single zone fare by cash (for 20c less at $4.80), three zones using a go card in peak hour ($4.66) five zones in off peak times ($5.76).

Quite simply, when people in larger cities than us are paying less than us, for the most simple trips people make, why haven’t we gone and fixed it? Obviously we can’t transform our system into a Canberra or Northern Territory or Hobart but we can learn from the Perth/Sydney /Melbourne systems(as well as some elements of the Canberra system) to help Brisbane make the great leap forward with it’s fares.

In the last decade, all three east coast capitals have undergone some sort of fare zone/band rationalisation. South East QLD was the first of these rationalisations, with the various zone structures of private operators, BCC buses/ferries, and the Citytrain network absorbed into the Translink network of 23 fixed zones on July 1 2004, coinciding with the introduction of integrated ticketing. Then, Melbourne in 2007 (which had integrated ticketing between bus, tram and rail for many years) moved from three fare zones, to two large zones which greatly simplified myki preparations, and simplified even further with the extension of their zone 1 fare to offer both Melbourne metropolitan zones in areas of overlap (zone 1/2) for the same price as zone 1 in January 2015. And finally, in 2010, Sydney moved to the MyZone system (after the major disaster trying to introduce Sydney’s original smartcard Tcard (still the only transport smartcard project in Australia to be scrapped) , with sectors, and fare bands dramatically changed (most notably all private bus operators in greater Sydney switching to one fare system, which fixed Tcard’s biggest flaw: previously every bus operator had separate fares, making smartcard management impossible), and eventually adding light rail to the integrated system (which previously didn’t accept most NSW integrated ticketing, only tram+CityRail passes) in June 2011 in preparation for Opal (which launched on the mode on December 1 in 2014 after a successful rollout on rail, ferry and buses). However, the complexity of the QLD zonal system, is what is costing QLD commuters money, especially for those who commute frequently between Brisbane and Gold or Sunshine Coasts using more than one mode (what we should be calling a “transfer penalty”) and those who commute distances across zones on active modes (bus, ferry and light rail): the prime example being some east-west journeys are cheaper than the same distances north-south.

With increased fares, come another problem: The pensioners and seniors of Queensland, some who have lived here all their lives, others have moved here for a seachange, are being literally shortchanged. As the example from post Jan 1 2015 shows below:

that simply the maximum pensioner/senior fare in QLD is much more expensive than the southern states, and even Perth has much lower fares than QLD when it comes to pensioners/seniors: their furtherest zone is 89km from Perth’s CBD. It’d take 13 days of back/forth travel from Perth’s zone 9-their CBD to reach the same amount of money QLD pensioners pay for a single return trip from Gympie North to Brisbane Airport, effectively travelling the distance between Brisbane and just outside Barkly Homestead in the Northern Territory, to match the cost for just one 335km round trip in Brisbane. But it can change. There needs to be a encouragement by the community, Translink and government alike to make Airtrain extend it’s free travel provisions for children, to seniors/pensioners, (or introduce a concession airport fare) who have to currently pay full adult fares to Brisbane Airport (in addition to their concession TL fares to Eagle Junction) to encourage more use of the service as a viable alternative to long term parking at the terminals, especially for the aged and infirm. The same applies to the tertiary students of QLD: with the extra red tape they need to go through just to get a concession and the unemployed/part time worker who have federal government issued Health Care Cards, who get no concessions at all.

Queensland is the only state in Australia to offer no transport concessions to all federal Health Care Card holders. It is a embarrassing statistic, considering things like Queensland recently recorded the highest unemployment rate in Australia of 6.9%, and there are regions surrounding Brisbane that have unemployment rates much higher than the state average. Moreton Bay’s northern suburbs and Logan/Beaudesert have unemployment rates around 8.5%, yet these areas currently have peak fares to the CBD that are around $7-8: with a transfer penalty and a north-south penalty combined, along with poorly designed bus networks (through lack of frequency, and lack of advance planning (particularly in the Moreton Bay region, that sees off-peak trips to Brisbane’s inner suburbs stretching to 2hrs while some intra-region travel is lengthy, the lack of services from Caboolture and Deception Bay to the new growth area of North Lakes (with some transfer penaltiesas well as the lack of commitment by local bus operators to run extra services to and from rail for major events such as NYE, forcing people to book taxis, just to get to rail as deep examples) that only enable a continuation of a transfer penalty for the unemployed, and low income earners that are exhorted to buy vehicles just to make a 10min trip to the shops or to their employment. This has to change. The government needs to take a united stance on the issue of HCC concession fares: not offering only to the unemployed, but the low income earner too, especially with the recent changes by the Department of Human Services to have HCC’s last 12 months instead of 6 months (which also saw PCC’s become 2 year renewals) which makes feasible extending the fare concession system to thousands of Queenslanders who would otherwise be driving to interviews, and employment.

The introduction at the start of 2014 of the “Tertiary Transport Concession Card” or TTCC, was bungled. Just ask any full time uni student. All it did was add another layer of complexity (thanks to one critical element, basing eligibility only on hours of study, for universities as well as TAFE not enrolment status) to purchasing a ticket that could have been avoided if the government did something drastic. Some examples interstate include:
-NSW: Tertiary Student Concession Card: Eligible to full time university students as deemed by the university, or minimum 20hrs a week study in a non-university tertiary institution. Cards issued by institution on behalf of Transport For NSW. Concession Opals for tertiary students are being delivered in a similar fashion to the existing TSCC system early next year. http://www.transportnsw.info/en/tickets/concessions/student-child/tertiary-student.page?

-VIC: Victorian Public Transport Student Concession Card: Available for courses at various VIC tertiary institutions, cards issued by PTV, through the PTV Hub and various metropolitan and regional railway stations, needed for Myki purchase. http://ptv.vic.gov.au/tickets/concessions/students/#2

-SA:  Tertiary institution ID cards endorsed by the Public Transport division of SA’s Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure. Cards issued by institution on behalf of SA Government, only need one card for concession ticket purchase. https://www.adelaidemetro.com.au/Tickets/Concession-Cards#student

-WA: Tertiary Smartrider: Only tertiary ID accepted in WA for PT, doubles as a smartcard ticket charging concession rates. http://www.transperth.wa.gov.au/smartrider/types-of-smartrider/tertiary-smartrider

The “something drastic” is simply handing over the whole process of issuing tertiary concessions to the institutions (who know more about the enrolment status of students), instead of the government, with a eye towards a Perth-style system where the student ID’s of SEQ’s big 6 universities (UQ, Griffith University, QUT, Bond University, University of The Sunshine Coast and USQ) as well as TAFE QLD to simply convert all student ID’s to a combination Student ID/go card that would solve the mess of concession issues that asking for a second ID card has caused.

The potential future of the network is on the up. Improved services, improved infrastructure. However: it could soon be too expensive to use. How to address the problems of the current structure: it all starts with a rewritten fare system.

We’d love to thank Robert Dow at Rail Back On Track, for the inspiration for the main part of this post. The Rail Back On Track site did nearly two years ago, a challenge amongst their users to design a new fare system for SEQ. This next part is based on some of the guidelines they set out, which themselves come from a fare review done in Wellington, New Zealand in 2012.

A solid new foundation for a improved SEQ fare system will be a combined approach, with a smaller number of zones for calculating rail fares, and distance based fares for all other modes. This would mean that a existing four zone bus trip for example would be instead charged on it’s distance from where you boarded initially through three distance fare bands (including intra-mode transfers), not by the number of zones you travel through. Rail, would see the number of zones reduced by two thirds, from 23 to 8, each consisting of three existing zones (new Zone 1, consists of old Zone 1,2 and 3 for example) along with provision for TL rail fares to be extended to Maryborough West and eventually Bundaberg, removing the requirement to book economy seats on all Bundaberg Tilt Train services.

The fare products this system will operate under will be as follows
Existing ticketing that will be retained:
-Go Card Adult, Child, Senior/Seniors Card+go and Concession
-Paper ticketing in it’s current form: with a end date to be decided in the future
-Cash fares.
-Various passes (Translink Access Pass, Companion Card)
New ticketing which would be introduced, which would be detailed after the vision:
-SEEQ Card (renamed goQ pass) becoming available in Concession form, as well as expansion to 7 (replacing 5 day variety), 14 and 28 day renewable hardstock smartcard passes.
-GoExplorer, currently on the Gold Coast for G:Link and bus only, would expand to daily solo (BNE, SC, GC), duo (BNE+GC/SC) and trio (all SEQ+BNE Airport) passes via paper smartcard ticketing.
-Go Card expanded to separate Pensioner cards and multiple varieties of concession.
-2hr single ticket reloadable and paper smartcard ticketing (replacing existing paper ticketing).
-Senior/Pensioner daily paper smartcard ticketing.

The cost to the commuter will dramatically change. Integrated fares would be calculated by distance+zone (for combined rail-bus/ferry/tram journeys), while single mode fares will apply through two structures:

-1 zone single adult fare (e.g. new Zone 1 (old Zone 1,2,3) for Go Card $3.00 peak, $2.50 off peak, Child, concession excluding seniors/pensioners: $1.50 all day.
Increases $1 per zone, with a maximum of $10 peak adult single, $9.50 off peak adult single,  and child, concession excluding seniors/pensioners: single $8.50 all day for zone 1-8 (old Zone 1-23) travel on Go Card. Paper ticketing will be cut to the same scheme, in preparation for paper smartcard singles.

-up to 5km fare: Go Card: $2.50 peak, $2.00 off peak adult and child, concession excluding seniors/pensioners single: $1.50 all day (all include 2hrs of unlimited transfers to any mode)
-5 to 10km fare: Go Card: $3.50 peak, $3.00 off peak adult single, and child, concession excluding seniors/pensioners single: $2.50 all day (all include 2hrs of unlimited transfers to any mode)
10km+ fare: Go Card $4.50 peak, $4.00 off peak adult single, and child, concession excluding seniors/pensioners single: $3.50 all day (all includes 3hrs of unlimited transfers to any mode)
Paper ticketing will be cut to the same scheme, in preparation for paper smartcard singles.

-Adult Go Card is capped at $12.50 a journey (zone 1-8 heavy rail fare+ up to 5km bus/ferry/light rail fare, any further is free for that journey), $25 a day (not including Airtrain which will be reformed).
-Child, Concession excluding seniors/pensioners capped at $12.50 a day (not including Airtrain for concession, including Airtrain for children)
-Seniors/new Pensioner card capped at $6.50 a day, but get unlimited travel all day, throughout SEQ (including Airtrain) after paying at reader, or via paper ticket/smartcard upon showing eligible concession card.
-Monthly Go Reward: A advantage for those using adult/concession/child Go Cards who always hit their daily caps, with 1/2 price travel for the rest of a calendar month, if they get 20 days in a calendar month with capped travel , along with replacing the current structure of 9 journeys and free every week with a cap of $125 (equivalent to 5 days travel Brisbane-Gympie North, with a added bonus for long distance commuters: free weekend travel).
-Senior/Pensioner Monthly Go Reward: A advantage for pensioners/seniors using hardstock Go Cards: if you have 10 days of capped daily travel every calendar month, your daily fare is reduced to $5 for the rest of the calendar month.

-goexplorer: DayPass zone boundaries are at Caboolture Station (between Brisbane/Sunshine Coast) and at Beenleigh Station (between Brisbane/Gold Coast) Rosewood Line is counted as part of Brisbane pass.
-goexplorer costs:
-Solo daypass (Brisbane only, no airport/Sunshine Coast only/Gold Coast only): $15 Adult, $7.50 Child/Concession other than seniors/pensioners
-Duo daypass (Brisbane+Gold Coast/Brisbane+Sunshine Coast) $20 without Airtrain, $25 with Airtrain daily access for adults. $10 for children (with Airtrain daily access included for children) and concession other than seniors and pensioners without Airtrain access and $12.50 for concession other than seniors/pensioners with daily Airtrain access.
-Trio daypass (Brisbane+Gold Coast+Sunshine Coast+Airtrain) $30 for adults and $15 for children/concession other than seniors/pensioners.
-goQ pass:
- Adult three day pass: $75, Adult 7 day renewable pass (replacing the 5 day variety): $125, Adult 14 day renewable pass:  $250 and Adult 28 day pass: $500. All will retain attraction discounts.
-Concession (pensioner/child/senior/overseas pre-purchase, replacing the current child pass) 3 day pass:  $25, Concession 7 day pass: $40, Concession 14 day pass: $80 and Concession 28 day pass: $160.
-goQ will eventually be sold outside SEQ, as smartcard ticketing spreads throughout Queensland and all goQ passes include Airtrain access.

-Seniors Card holders, Department of Human Services PCC holders (including those with digital wallet PCC’s), DVA card holders: eligible for Seniors Card+Go Card/Pensioner Go Card with capped daily costs paid on initial entry to the Translink network as well as monthly rewards and capped daily ticketing via paper/paper smartcard, for interstate concession holders, as well as access to concession goQ tickets.
-Department of Human Services Health Care Card holders (including low income earners, the unemployed as well as interstate visitors and digital wallet HCC’s): eligible for Concession Go Card, with capped daily costs based on fares paid during the day as well as monthly rewards and access to concession ticketing (such as singles and daypasses) via paper/paper smartcard as well as concession goQ tickets.
-Overseas prepurchased goQ cards (7, 14 and 28 day cards, usually sold through a travel agent, much like how various rail passes are sold): sold at the concession rate.
-Children: Under 5 years old, free travel. School aged students can get a new look Child Go Card, amalgamated with the School Transport Subsidy, replacing various bus passes and will need to be replaced/details changed when child moves into high school (due to high school details, concerning school bus travel now being part of the Child Go Card). After school hours, weekends and school holidays fares charged at the concession rate along with capped daily ticketing and monthly bonus (which will include school bus fares) with access to concession ticketing (such as singles and daypasses) via paper/paper smartcard as well as concession goQ tickets.
-Tertiary: all QLD tertiary students (inc. foreign and part-time students) eligible for TT (tertiary transport) Go Card: charged at concession rate, with capped daily costs and access to monthly rewards, as well as paper/paper smartcard concession ticketing (single and daypasses).

-Go Card and varieties include:
 -Adult (charges adult fares)
 -(Reworked) Child (charges concession fares and school fares, expires at the end of Year 6, and Year 12)
 -Seniors Card+Go (to become the default Seniors Card in Queensland, charges capped daily fares)
 -(New) Pensioner (Removed from the existing “concession” Go Card structure, charges capped daily fares)
 -(New) TT (short for tertiary transport Go Card, can double as institution ID, replaces TTCC, charges concession fares)
 -(Reworked) Concession (charges concession fares, with new eligibility rules)
-goQ Pass includes:
 - (Reworked) Adult (Available in 3, 7, 14 and 28 day varieties)
 - (Reworked) Concession (formally the child SEEQ, available in 3, 7, 14 and 28 day varieties)
-Paper ticketing (only a interim solution (2-3 years): for daily goExplore passes, singles, and pensioner/senior daily tickets)
-Paper smartcard (the eventual solution with paper ticket phaseout in SEQ): for daily goExplore passes, single fares (reloadable for 24hrs after initial purchase) and pensioner/senior daily tickets)

Now you have seen how we’d redesign the fare system, we will now go into detail about some other features we’d love to see implemented, to help make the SEQ network a strong and viable system.

Go Card: expanding the sales network.
The current state of the Go Card sales network is poor, for the size of our region. With 600 locations to buy a Go Card, and 1600 to top up (aided by rail station fare machines that currently don’t sell Go Card), this means accessibility is at a major lowpoint for ticketing other than adult, as it shows that a integrated sales network was never developed organically outside the BCC area (where 10 trip saver resellers simply became Go Card resellers/topup), unlike Sydney and Melbourne, where ticketing products are sold at swathes of newsagencies, convenience stores (and in the case of Sydney, Woolworths supermarkets sell both MyZone and Opal, and Opal is currently not available at railway stations) in accessible locations close to transport routes. A example of the lack of a sales network is set with the recently opened Cavill Ave light rail station on the Gold Coast: Thousands of hotel rooms and apartments are near the station, as well as restaurants, offices and other activity generators. Yet there is only four places (three 7/11’s and a tourist information centre) to purchase the full suite (i.e. adult, child, senior and concession varieties) of Go Card product as well as the GC-only GoExplore: and only one location that can offer to register and refund a standard Go Card: a tourist information centre, with no place to purchase a SEEQ card. In comparison with another tourist generator: Circular Quay rail station in Sydney (closest rail access to the Sydney Opera House) has 14 outlets: with half of those selling Opal.  This situation in QLD needs to change dramatically.

-The Go Card retail sales network needs to double. That’s right, adding at least 600 more outlets to purchase and top up Go Cards in SEQ alone, with the current preloaded Go card reseller network being offered top-up capability, (as well as the ability to sell Concession/Senior cards), as well as the encouragement of new retailers to deal in both topup and sales, as well as in some areas the ability to refund/register, and all new members of the Go Card sales “family” mandated to sell SEEQ cards.
-Go Card retail sales sites will need to be more visible, with the introduction of more signage, as well as having extra multi-lingual outlets to fill gaps: e.g, Chinatown Fortitude Valley and Southport, Sunnybank and Inala.
-Allow places like Coles/Woolworths/IGA to sell Go Card top-ups only: through the customer service desk, like Sydney does with MyZone/Opal.
-Lay the groundwork in Townsville/Cairns to seamlessly develop a network of resellers (initially consisting of the paper weeklies and daily ticketing) in preparation for a future Go Card rollout to Sunbus’s networks in those cities.

Why was there a mention about Townsville/Cairns? The next strategy is one that will reshape public transport in QLD forever. This is the phasing out of Qconnect, and statewide rollout of Translink, in a major change for QLD PT.

The goQ Strategy.
Those wondering why there was a mention of a “goQ” product in the fare system, will need to read this section. With the eventual phaseout of Qconnect, there will need to be a overhaul of perception of “Translink” in regional minds, as it is associated with soaring SEQ fares. This is where the new fare system, comes in to it’s own. It’s distance based for buses in regional areas (with no peak fares), and most importantly, will be the same price in every regional centre, same fare bands (up to 5km, 5-10km and 10km+) as SEQ, with daily and weekly tickets retained.

Ex 1. Sunbus Townsville/Magnetic Island currently have two separate fare systems: with adult daily tickets costing a maximum of $10 in Townsville and $7.40 on Magnetic Island. Distance based fares, would see a arrival of a combined daily ticket (Townsville+Magnetic Island, replacing the two separate daily tickets) cost $8, $9.60 less than the existing system of separate dailies.
Ex 2. Proserpine and Airlie Beach/Shute Harbour share a fare system, with one route frequently running. Adult singles currently cost a maximum of $8.20 to go from Proserpine to Shute Harbour (almost as expensive as a 1-6 paper fare in SEQ). Distance based fare bands would cut the fare for the 36km journey to $4 with daily tickets costing $8, half the price they currently are now ($16.40), and ten trip tickets will become weeklies.
Ex 3. Rockhampton/Yeppoon currently operate with two operators, Sunbus in Rockhampton’s urban area, and Youngs servicing Gracemere, Mt Morgan and Yeppoon. Currently, the maximum paid for a daily ticket, is $24.80: Distance based integrated fares would see a daily ticket come down to $8, allowing use of both Youngs and Sunbus networks, along with the allowing of Youngs to service some Rockhampton destinations currently serviced by Sunbus.
This entails the name of the strategy: goQ, where the entire state of QLD is aligned on one fare system. Most critically, with the introduction of the wider range of goQ product suite, outside SEQ, you would be able to use it on almost every service currently served by qconnect and Translink Regional, with a move towards unified smartcard ticketing throughout QLD, phasing out the local cards available in some areas, and introducing deep sales networks for both goQ passes and Go Card sales and top up. Other factors include:
-provision for extension of the current go card network for rail, first to Maryborough West, and then to Howard and Bundaberg utilizing the current Bundaberg Tilt Train service.
-prioritizing the three main SEQ qconnect – Translink feeders (Hinterland Connect, Polleys Gympie and Christensen's of Kilcoy) as well as the non-Translink run Dayboro-Strathpine service by Brisbane Bus Lines to adopt Translink fares and Go Card, as well as government help for funding service increases for these services, esp. if meeting rail.

The need for more tightly managed bus services in SEQ sees the need to rapidly change how prepaid buses operate: along with the fashion of how many other stops operate, to not just discourage fare evasion but to simplify boarding for some areas. It should begin by a proper guide about various prepaid services, along with a radical change: which can be achieved once paper smartcard reloadable singles/dailies arrive: the entire Brisbane CBD will need to become a prepaid zone on weekdays. This means between the hours of 7am-7pm Monday to Friday, if you have to board any bus in the CBD, no matter the operator, no matter the destination, you have to have a valid ticket to board a bus service as they won’t be sold on board, with key stops without fare machines (e.g. Adelaide St between Edward and George St) manned by conductors selling ticketing products/smartcard topups. Similar ideas include:
-the South East Busway converting to a entirely prepaid operation between the hours of 6am-10pm 7 days a week, including implementing manned operations at some stations (e.g. Greenslopes, Griffith University and Upper Mt Gravatt stations) to discourage fare evasion.
-All other busway stations (except for the premium stops at Federation St Windsor, Truro St Lutwyche and Dutton Park which won’t require prepaid platforms, CBD stations and UQ Lakes station, which would have prepaid platforms running at the same hours as the CBD during UQ semesters (7am-7pm) would operate a alternating system, with citybound platforms being prepaid between 7-1pm and outbound platforms being prepaid between 2-7pm Monday-Friday.
-Various bus interchanges (e.g. Chermside, Indooroopilly, North Lakes, Broadbeach South), and rail-bus interchanges (e.g. GC line stations, Enoggera, Springfield, Petrie and two MBRL stations) being prepaid 24-7 mainly to speed boarding, with investment in possibly installing fare gates at some rail stations as well as fare machines on the bus station side of the station to limit fare evasion opportunities.
-Adding extra staff to some stations outside the busway network to limit fare evasion and for customer assistance (particularly needed for the Light Rail termini, and various interchanges), along with extra fare machines at interchanges.
-And finally, promote the prepaid move well ahead of implementation, even stage the project over 6 months, so people don’t freak out over the whole thing on day 1, of a mass implementation.

And finally, how to keep fares low, and prevent government interference with transport fares, and would become a huge benefit for all Queenslanders no matter where they live.

The reason, our fares spiralled out of control in SEQ is simply that politics has gotten into the very essence of what makes public transport tick. In comparison, in NSW fare changes since the introduction of MyZone/Opal have been little, but this is thanks to the creation of IPART (Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal) in 1992, which prior to MyZone only handled the NSW Govt’s bus networks in Sydney/Newcastle, ferry networks in Sydney/Newcastle and CityRail (now split into Sydney Trains (suburban) and NSW TrainLink (merger of CountryLink regional and CityRail interurban operation) fares, with private operators setting their own fares. How IPART works, is that a independent review of adult fares for all modes of PT (excluding light rail, but is expected to change with Opal implementation as well as service extensions) is usually done every year (while concession fares (inc. Sydney’s $2.50 PET tickets) are handled by NSW Govt themselves) and they offer a recommendation: that the government usually rubber stamps. In Queensland however, there is no independent body to advise government, while it’s the TL division of TMR (a long way from when Translink was a separate authority) that sets the fares, it’s political games that sees often the the fare rises publicised. The strategy moving forward should be:
-Translink becomes a separate government department within TMR (changing to TMRT, Transport, Main Roads and Translink):
-Translink no longer actually sets fares, but still collects them from operators.
-A new independent “Public Transport Fare Tribunal” will set adult and non-senior/pensioner concession public transport fares, with government to rubber stamp.
-The PTFT would be apolitical, with representatives from all QLD private operators (bus, ferry and tram) and QR as a encouragement to support competitive tendering: currently operators have little say in fares, however with one key partner (Brisbane Transport) excluded, however BT would be offered a seat on the PTFT if it gives up it’s public transport service and facilities planning (i.e bus services, park and rides and bus stations) to Translink, de-politicizes their operations and begins a path for BCC to exit the provision of public transport after ninety years, for the betterment of the SEQ PT network in general: as it is what people really want to see delivered as part of competitive tendering.

As we conclude Kuttsy’s Fare Pitch, we look forward to the upcoming state election with vigor. We hope to see some of these ideas end up on the political table, as public transport will be a major issue in SEQ, especially with the upcoming plans for competitive tendering of public transport services. The fare changes proposed in this can be delivered together or separately. Same with the other recommendations such as goQ, PTFT and departmental reshuffles. But if nothing is done, Brisbane will end up like Sydney within a decade: stranded suburbs, with a public transport network too expensive to use for even the people most in need of it.

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