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Public Transport Fare Structure in Melbourne

By Bruce Barbour - June 2018

Daily Fares

At present Melbourne has a flat public transport fare structure. Basically the cost is the same whether a person travels a short distance or a long distance - except for the outer suburban areas in Zone 2 where if the travel is all in that zone a lesser fare applies and in the CBD where public transport is free.

While I believe the flat structure is good its main disadvantage is that it discourages the use of public transport for a short trip. If you want to travel one station on the rail system  - maybe a kilometre or two - it is going to cost that same as travelling 10 or 15 stations or kilometres. That cost is presently (2018) $4.30 (Aus) for a two hour fare ($8.60 for a daily fare). This cost is a disincentive to using public transport for the short trip - it would be cheaper to just drive the car - or walk - a bit further direct to the destination rather than catch public transport.

What I suggest is that there are lesser fares for the short trip. As a suggestion the fare might be set as $0.80 per rail station topping out at the current flat fare. For five stations the cost would be $4. For 6 and more stations the flat fee of $4.30 would apply. For trams and buses a fare of $0.40 per stop might apply, with the similar flat top fare. The current Myki ticketing system would have to be adjusted but I can't imagine it would be a significant reprogramming exercise. If a traveller wants to take advantage of the short trip fare they would just have to remember to "touch off" before disembarking (for trams and buses) or at the destination station for trains. It would also mean that Zone 2 could disappear so Melbourne will just have a one zone system.

Myki Pass

My other issue with Melbourne's Myki fare structure is the "Myki Pass". Myki offers two types of fares - "Myki Money" which is used for trips on a single day - and "Myki Pass" is for travel over multiple consecutive days. A "Myki Pass" can be be purchased for a minimum of a seven day period up to a maximum of one year. The fares on the Myki Pass are consequently discounted compared to "Myki Money". For example a seven day "Myki Pass" will provide the user with travel for seven consecutive days for the cost of five days travel under "Myki Money". The trouble with the system is that when you purchase the fare you have to nominate whether you want "Myki Pass" or the "Myki Money". You could nominate for the purchase of a "Myki Pass" hoping for a discount on the travel over the period and then something could happen which would mean that can't fully use the fare over the nominated period - e.g. sickness. This means that with a "Myki Pass" you could end up paying more for your travel than compared to the the cost for equivalent travel with "Myki Money".

My suggestion is that there is only "Myki Money" under which the allocation of the discount for multiple day travel is automatic. For example if you use the "Myki Money" for five days (day fares) you would automatically be able to travel the next two days for free. Similarly when you reach a certain number of paid travel days (day fares) for a year then the rest of the travel for that year would be free. This could be achieved by some programming in the Myki software system. Once a free period is reached a text message (and/or email) would be sent to the user overnight informing them that they can use the public transport system for free for the nominated period. ("Touch on" would still be required to monitor system use and for fare inspection purposes.) This will be much simpler for the user and would encourage use of public transport for more than just the commute to and from work.

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