While some are hailing the government’s plan (backed by Labor) to apply zone 1 fares (as a maximum) right across Melbourne, I thought it might be worth looking at the per kilometre cost for various trips — including some V/Line trips.
The table below shows a sample of trips, both with the current fares, and the proposed ones (assuming no overall rise on 1/1/2015).
|km||Cost (peak)||Cost/km||Zone(s)||Cost (peak)||Cost/km|
|Richmond to City||2.6||1||$3.58||$1.38||1||$3.58||$1.38|
|Malvern to City||8.9||1||$3.58||$0.40||1||$3.58||$0.40|
|Oakleigh to City||15.3||1||$3.58||$0.23||1||$3.58||$0.23|
|Clayton to City||19.3||2||$6.06||$0.31||1||$3.58||$0.19|
|Dandenong to City||30||2||$6.06||$0.20||1||$3.58||$0.12|
|Pakenham to City||57||2||$6.06||$0.11||1||$3.58||$0.06|
|Werribee to City||32.4||2||$6.06||$0.19||1||$3.58||$0.11|
|Lara to City||57.5||2||$6.06||$0.11||1||$3.58||$0.06|
|Geelong to Melbourne City||72.5||4||$11.20||$0.15||4||$11.20||$0.15|
|North Geelong to Werribee||37.6||2||$3.60||$0.10||2||$3.60||$0.10|
|Geelong to Werribee||40.1||3||$2.94||$0.07||3||$2.94||$0.07|
What I find interesting is that once the change takes effect, the cost per kilometre will vary by up to a factor of 23 — with passengers from Richmond to the City paying $1.38 per kilometre, but Pakenham to City paying just 6 cents. Stations like Oakleigh and Malvern are somewhere in the middle.
As you can see, there are some other interesting things to note:
- Geelong to Werribee is cheaper than North Geelong to Werribee, both currently and under the proposed change. This is because the former is a 3-zone fare, which automatically attracts an off-peak discount at all times, because the trip doesn’t go into zone 1. — EDIT: This was fixed in January 2016 by reducing the 2-zone V/Line fare.
- Currently the Clayton to City cost is 31 cents/km, almost 50% higher than the Oakleigh figure, and three times the Pakenham to City figure. It’ll still be much higher than the Pakenham figure.
- I’m told V/Line Zone 2 stations are included in the change — which I think is unwise. It’s not hard to see how stations like Lara are about to suffer a LOT of car park pressure. Once the change comes in, the per-km and monetary cost from Lara to Melbourne will be about a third that of Geelong.
- Thanks to the zone 3 removal in 2007, Lara is already in zones 2, 3 and 4. It would seem it’s also going to be in zone 1 from January!
Regional town buses
While I was looking, I had a snoop around the regional town bus maps, to see if any of them were stuck with two-zone bus trips where Melbourne will only pay a maximum of one zone.
When the Myki zones were devised, they were wise enough to put just about the entirety of each town within a single zone (with some areas in overlaps of other zones).
Geelong is in zone 4, Seymour zone 6/7 overlap, Traralgon zone 12/13 overlap, Bendigo zone 14, and so on. So almost every local bus trip in Victorian cities (at least those covered by Myki) is a single zone trip, $2.20.
One exception is at Ballarat: its bus route 9 to Creswick crosses from zone 8 (Ballarat) into zone 9. This means the 14 minute, 18 km trip from Ballarat Station to Creswick town centre is a two-zone trip, costing $3.60 — about the same cost as Melbourne zone 1. All other Ballarat bus routes are within zone 8.
Point to point charging?
I should note that comparing the per kilometre costs are not an attempt to implicitly say that point-to-point fares would work better or more fairly, though I know some people support them.
The poor implementation of Myki also means it’s unlikely we’ll ever see point-to-point charging while it’s around. Slow touch times mean re-introducing touch-off to trams would play havoc with loading times, even in the suburbs. And Myki’s GPS units seem to be hopeless when it comes to accuracy. (Curiously, Smartbus GPS units are excellent.)
Point-to-point also isn’t necessarily good policy. It needs to be very carefully implemented not to penalise people who go from A to B via C because the network is designed so that they have to — interchanging between services is already a necessary pain for many trips — you shouldn’t charge people more money for it.
And the bottom line is politically we’re probably stuck with the mostly-flat-fares in Melbourne for a few years at least.
So if we’re stuck with it, let’s embrace it: Rejoice that Zone 1 types can explore Zone 2 for no extra cost! Embrace that you won’t need to get your Myki out for tram rides in the CBD! Celebrate the removal of the need to touch-off for most people!
Update: Tom pointed out in a comment that my distance from Richmond to Flinders Street was wrong. Whoops. Corrected.