Lazy Luddite Log

7.6.07

Fare Zone

Several months ago I indicated my relish hidden in this long post at the prospect of having only two rather than three public transport zones in Melbourne. At the time however others (in face-to-face conversation) expressed a skepticism as to how much this would benefit commuters once annual fare rises came in. The merging of Zones 2 and 3 occured back in March but the ticket prices were frozen till June (supposedly as some form of compensation for all the commuters who have suffered all sorts of service delays and cancellations). Now the changes have come in and we can debate whether the prices cancel any savings made by the zones merger.

The Public Transport Users Association (PTUA) says that prices have risen by more than 25% over the last five years. Let us call that an average of over 5% per annum. This time round the price of a Zones 1+2 Daily Full Fare ticket has risen from $9.50 to $9.90 which may well be too much. But consider that the old Zones 1+2+3 Daily Full Fare ticket cost $12.40. That ticket has ceased to exist. For anyone who uses PT from the outer suburbs this represents a definite improvement. One objection to this is that relatively few outer-suburban residents use PT because the service levels are dismal. However there still are those who depend on it and for them this must be a marked improvement.

Other price comparisons I have suggest that anyone who once had to buy a ticket covering the now abolished Zone 3 has benefited. Those only travelling within old Zones 1 or 2 will have experienced price rises. The Zone 2 Daily Full Fare ticket for instance has risen from $4.10 to $4.40. I suspect that this kind of price rise (over 5%) was likely to happen anyway and it is what commuters have come to expect. That was always gonna happen. So I think while the price rises are a problem I also think that the zone changes are of a benefit for those who most needed it.

Personally I have discovered benefits of the change other than monetary ones. It is a lot simpler now to decide what kind of ticket to purchase and what kind of service to use. In the past I sometimes felt forced to make a decision that was logistically stupid but financially wise. Now decisions are much more likely to make both logistical and financial sense. Those of us lacking technical minds are better off. For me there is just that bit more attraction in using a flawed service than there once was. For now I am content.

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2 Comments:

  • Dear Daniel,

    I am imagining that that there will be a distinct sociological shift across Melbourne at the falling of this artificial barrier. Sheltered denizens of the middle suburbs may well venture for the first time... into the fringe. Zone 3/Zone 2 romances, previously inhibited by the extra cents as much as the rift between the middle suburbs and the boondocks, will flourish. Bring on the revolution! Hurrah!

    (No doubt this move has been condemned by the Australian as "social engineering").

    Julie.

    By Blogger julie, At 18 June, 2007  

  • Funny you say that Julie. For a few years I lived in Mulgrave, well into old Zone 3, and in that time there was nothing on the romantic front. Then, last July, I moved to the Clayton area, in old Zone 2 and close to the border with Zone 1, and by September I was dating. I had attributed it to other factors, but you may be onto something there...

    By Blogger Daniel, At 18 June, 2007  

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