Public transport fares to rise about 5%

It hasn’t been announced yet, but I understand Myki fares are going up about 5% in January.

(Zone 1+2 fares will drop to zone 1 level of course, in line with the pledge made by the Coalition and matched by Labor.)

This is rise the Coalition government announced in December 2013, which I assume the new Labor government has approved: 2.3% CPI, plus a rise in real terms of 2.5%.

(Perhaps it’s not surprising Labor has okayed it; the Coalition went through with CPI+5% rises in 2012 and 2013 which had been planned by Labor back when it was in office.)

Myki zone changes

Leaving aside the enormous disparity in per kilometre fares, the combination of zone changes (including free tram rides in the city) plus a real terms rise means we get the terrific combination of:

  • Fare revenue dropping by about $100m per year
  • Those travelling short distances (eg those costing the network the least in terms of driver and vehicle hours, and fuel) getting fare rises
  • Those travelling long distances (eg most expensive to serve, especially if you consider things like the demand to build more express tracks, and fleets being unable to run more than a single round trip in peak) seeing a big fare cut (increasing their subsidy)
  • A price signal that it’s good to use PT for long trips, which is likely to add to crowding, particularly on trains

Plus of course those who currently have crap PT in the middle and outer-suburbs will continue to have crap PT because there’s less money available to pay for upgrades.


While I don’t think a per kilometre fare is really a great idea (especially with Myki’s currently hopelessly slow readers and even more hopeless GPS devices), nor do I think a trip from Flinders Street to the Shrine should cost the same as one to Pakenham.

Silver lining: If they’re smart, they’ll let people know that in most cases you no longer have to touch-off after metropolitan train/bus trips. Just as on most tram trips now, the default fare if you don’t touch-off will be the same fare you pay if you did.

Still unknown: The fate of the Earlybird fare, long rumoured to be on the verge of being removed.

Update: Beat the rise?: Hoping to beat the price rise by splashing out on a Commuter Club yearly? No chance. The news of the rise came through in a CC bulletin yesterday showing the rise for Yearly fares, and declaring the ordering deadline to be 5pm the same day — way too fast for any CC organisations to scramble to let employees/members know. Usually there’s at least a few days’ warning. Not this time, though it’s still cheaper to buy a CC Yearly Pass than a retail Yearly.

If you use other Myki Passes, you can still beat the rise by buying them before the end of December. (But don’t buy a zone 1+2 pass; you’ll just need to get a partial refund once the zone changes happen). You can’t beat the price rise with Myki Money — it’s charged as you use it, not when you load it.

Update 6:30pm Tuesday: The rise has been confirmed by PTV in The Age: Myki fare rise for commuters travelling in a single zone.

Of course, those travelling in three or more zones will also see a rise, though I don’t think it’s been clarified if a zone 1 to 4 trip (eg Melbourne to Geelong) would still pay the zone 2 portion of the fare as part of that.

It’s also worth noting that this is not the only recent above-CPI rise: there were CPI+5% rises in 2012 and 2013 (the ones planned by Labor).

I also note that while this 2014 rise was been planned by the Coalition, in 2011 then-Public Transport Minister Terry Mulder said in the Ballarat Courier: “The Coalition Government wants to keep changes in ticket prices to no more than CPI (Consumer Price Index).”

Update 17/12/2014: The rise has finally been confirmed by PTV. Early Bird is staying, and the weekend daily cap will remain at $6 (though it’s not much cheaper than the new zone 1+2 daily cap anyway).

By Daniel Bowen

Transport blogger / campaigner and spokesperson for the Public Transport Users Association / professional geek.
Bunurong land, Melbourne, Australia.
Opinions on this blog are all mine.

24 replies on “Public transport fares to rise about 5%”

This is completely illogical fare policy, could you imagine going to the supermarket and paying the same price for 100 grams of rice as for 10 kilos of rice. To make matters worse the price for 100 grams sharply increases to pay for the cost of providing 10 kilos of rice. This is pure politics and has no economic rationality. There should be at least 4 zones with an off peak discount as the Myki card can easily handle zones and changes in pricing during the day.

“If they’re smart, they’ll let people know that in most cases you no longer have to touch-off after metropolitan train/bus trips, just as on most tram trips now.”

First I’ve heard of this. Most cases?

@Jacob, free off-peak travel would also be throwing away huge amounts of money. Have you seen how busy the system is in the middle of the day, and on weekends and evenings?

@par3000, the default fare on trains is zone 1+2. If the zone 1+2 fare is the same as zone 1, that means most people won’t be penalised financially if they don’t touch-off.

Obviously you’d still have to touch-off at the end of a trip into the CBD to get through the gates, but for outbound trips to the suburbs, it wouldn’t matter. If everybody stops doing it, it should help the queues to exit in the evening at suburban stations.

I really don’t get why public transport in Melbourne is such a mess, when even developing countries can do a better job of it.

I’m going to push for telecommuting next year. Tired of paying $130-something a month to spend hours standing in a hot sardine can.

Off peak travel should not be free it should be at least 30% cheaper than peak travel just like any other utility that charges less for offpeak usage. If there were more zones, touching off would not be a problem if there were extra gates to handle more people.

I did not see touching off as a problem in most overseas metros as there were plenty of gates to exit from so it should not be a problem here either.

Obviously there needs to be a peak price system introduced as there is an effective subsidy of probably high net worth individuals who use public transport to get to the city.
Where there is room for price drops is say catching the train from Chatham to Camberwell in the daytime or the tram in its outer reaches where non peak patronage is sparse (apart from school times when trams are overrun by sub humans). All that expensive infrastructure needs to be used – rather like the airlines do with fares during the middle of the day.
Surely this is one of the benefits that can be brought about through myki.

Ridiculous that a fare from Brunswick to the city will now cost the same as one from Pakenham. Surely Myki could handle some kind of point-to-point fare system on the trains?

So the fare from my place to Elsternwick – 2 short tram trips – is now the same price as Craigieburn to Frankston.

I’ve reached the ripe age where public transport is now a nice to have but not necessary. It’s cheerio to the roiling filthy antique trams on Hawthorn Rd and the accompanying hordes of grim faced inspectors. I’ll now just drive or cycle and keep my money for me.

Nuts of course – not that long ago I could drag the family on to a train on the weekend for free on my periodical ticket – now its quite expensive and we don’t do that anymore.

Compounding all this, the miserable sad sacks at Bayside Council have applied weekday parking restrictions applying around Gardenvale Station to the weekend as well. Why oh Why is a 4HR limit applied on a Sunday at the parking alongside that station? Needless to say, the car park on Sunday afternoon was largely empty! My daughter and I just stayed in the car, and drove to the city instead and found a cheap car spot in Queens Street.

So you don’t have to touch off except you do because if you take a single trip and don’t touch off you get charged for the full day and not for the 2 hours, or is the 2 hours going as well? And what are the new fares? My daughter is moving closer to the city next year, she was rapped to think of all the money she was going to be saving on public transport. I’ll break it to her gently. Will there still be discounts on the weekends? I’m a little confused to say the least.

Great, now everyone will pile on every available tram like its the last helicopter off the roof of the American embassy in Saigon just so they don’t have to walk a block. The the enforcement officers will sit one stop past the boundary off the free area waiting for people who did not touch on, just see if they don’t

Probably cheaper for me to use my car for short trips where i’ll be a little over two hours. I really wish they’d bring in three or four hour tickets. I don’t need a daily, and the two hour is practically one way. I used to always extend my two hour to make sure i got the extra hour. That used to be just enough to complete a few errands.

Arh, one fact has just struck me. Is the following in fact true???

If I travel from Flinders Street to say Pakenham, it shall be a zone 1 fare only.

If I travel just one stop more to Nar Nar Goon, I shall be paying 1+2+3. So, all three zones in once. Or, may we now develop an all new 1+3 zone fare?

If I travel from either Oakliegh or Dandenong to Pakenham, it is zone 2.

If I travel to Oakleigh or Dandenong to Nar Nar Goon, it will be zone 2+3 as it currently is?

Clearly, nobody is going to catch the train from Nar Nar Goon any time in the near future?

RE ALAN; strictly speaking it is Werribee to Pakenham via the city fare.

I love the idea of discount fares for off peak times. I do not know of what discount we should have but 30% sounds good. That would encourage pensioners to use public transport only at those times, and free up capacity during the worker and school peaks when the pressure is really on.

I was rather happy with the former three zone system. I am also happy with the idea of a four zone system for the Metro area.

Also, I would like to short trip fares back again. Say the old rail +2 and rail +4 that we had prior to 1983. The rail+2 was retained under ‘The Met’ for a number of years. I do not remember when that was removed.

Re, the no longer need to touch off at journies end.

Furthermore, one of the big advantages for us moving from Metcard to Myki, is the fact that all passengers must touch off on each journey.

This gave the stats department the valued numbers of how many people where travelling over respective sections of the network.

Now, we are about to loose all of that if people no longer need to touch off at the end of their journey.

Furthermore, what if people touch on where V/Line trains operate from?

Will people risk a default V/Line fare if they do not touch off on a journey that started from one of those locations?

Hmm, you’re quite hard on those users taking longer distance trips. In a fully user pays world you’d pay per kilometre, but then we’d have a per kilometre usage charge on the roads too, or at very least a congestion tax. And all of that is unfair to the less advantaged. Inner suburb dwellers are already spoiled for choice of tram and train services, while outer suburb users don’t need any more reason to jump in their cars.

What about those with a yearly CC Myki purchased during the year who continue to pay the old rate for Zone 1+2?
If it will soon be cheaper to travel Zone 1+2, then the logic is that the yearly CC will cost less.
But for many, we are still paying the old Zone 1+2 fare.

“Hmm, you’re quite hard on those users taking longer distance trips”
In the 6 zone system suggested here

Travelling from Pakenham to the city as an example it would still be significantly cheaper ($1.04 per weekly kilometre) as opposed to someone from Williamstown ($2.58 per weekly kilometre). If the person was not travelling into the city then that Pakenham traveller would pay even less at (46cents per weekly kilometre). My only suggestion would be to add a 3rd fare zone (3-6) which would $15 per week to really encourage bus and train travel in the outer suburbs as well as an off peak fare discount of at least 30% all times outside of these times 7:30AM to 9:30AM and 3PM to 7PM. This may sound slightly more complicated than the flat fare system although people would not need to determine the times and zones that they are in as Myki can automatically calculate it .

I see that inner city commuters are complaining about paying the same as outer suburban commuters for a shorter trip, but this policy is not actually costing you more (the annual price rise would have happened either way) it sounds a bit like “why are they getting something and I’m not?” but that happens with every government policy that helps one section of society. I believe major benefit of this policy will be that rental pressure and prices for properties in zone 1, particularly at the edge of zone 1 (such as Bentleigh, Mont Albert, Huntingdale etc.) will lessen as suddenly that extra few train stops doesn’t cost you an extra $130+ a month to commute, or twice that for a couple, so potentially a whole weeks rent is saved for a lot of people, this will have flow on effects in the economy.
For most of my adult life until recently I had lived at the edge of zone 1 particularly because the slightly higher rent compared with further out was offset by the savings of a zone 1 ticket vs 1+2.
Another benefit is the car parks at these edge of zone 1 stations will hopefully no longer be filled to overflowing by people driving past 2 stations to get on in Zone 1. Also anything that encourages people to get off the freeways and onto public transport is a good thing. The government needs to keep putting policies in place encouraging this, however they also MUST increase services to keep pace with increased patronage.

Not sure what the fuss is about except the loss of revenue – what about all those people who think PT should be totally free? Not far off. But o spose not opinion of people here. Interesting comment that freeways are free no matter how far you travel at least the ones that aren’t tolled. And subways in new york are flat price no matter how far you travel. Paying more for an express or peak hr service not a bad idea however.

Most inner city people will continue to use PT and outer suburban people will continue to drive as inner city commuters have convenient services while outer suburban commuters do not. Price will not change anything however in the cases of zone changes between 1 and 2 the big price changes between zones altered behaviour so station car parks in outer zone 1 areas would fill up quickly as zone 2 residents would drive into those stations to save money on the ticket.

The solution is not a flat fare but more zones to prevent big price changes between zones.

In regards to freeways the fact that they are a free results in a big subsidy to drivers creating an extra incentive to drive, all urban freeways in Melbourne should be tolled with the proceeds going into PT infrastructure and services.

Stephen – prices will go up though. A zone 1 fare will almost certainly go up in future by more than it would have to offset the fall in revenue from those travelling further.

And the ‘people are richer in the inner city than in the burbs and therefore can afford to pay more’ argument doesn’t really wash either. I for one have a significantly lower household income and my CBD apartment would be worth less than many of my suburban friends. I made a trade off for a much smaller place that suited my lifestyle. Lower fares from longer distances in a network that is so geared around commuting to the CBD overwhelmingly favour those who work in the CBD – a far wealthier demographic than most.

There clearly need to be more zones with lower increase in costs to address the ‘one station penalty’ you outline above. This would also mean much cheaper local trips for people in the burbs, wwhich are more likely to be made by those on lower incomes than their CBD commuting neighbours

I think free CBD trams will not last. It is just a stupid policy.

Zone 1 stations should not have free parking. The land is too valuable and it undercuts outer zone fares.

Reduced off-peak fares would be good. They would also reduce peak overcrowding and help increase off-peak patronage to increase to a level to justify higher frequencies on more lines. This might even be able to be extended to counter-peak as well, although that would be rather complicated for most tram and many bus routes.

To those who argue for distance based fares, based on long cross city rail trips, I point out that not all distance travelled costs the same to the system, different parts of trips have different marginal costs. Melbourne`s rail system is virtually never packed on both directions and so the cost to the system of the inward leg and the outward leg are quite different. On the more crowded direction leg the cost per passenger km of extra patronage is quite high because for every few hundred extra people an extra train has to run in and out of the city, often when the tracks are at their busiest, although additional counter-peak runs can often run express terminus to terminus. There is more capacity in the less busy direction and, in peak, if the stopping counter-peak trains are not sufficient, then the cost is not for a whole train service but for an existing super express service to be made a stopping service.

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