Fares rising at almost double rate of inflation – Monthly fare cuts could ease myki pain

Zone 2, 3-hour ticket from 1991-92Public transport fares have risen at double the rate of inflation, a study of fares over the last twenty years by the Public Transport Users Association (PTUA) has shown.

PTUA President Daniel Bowen said that the Consumer Price Index was 66.7% over the last two decades[1], but that many fares had jumped by about 120%. Mr Bowen said that the government should – at the very least – cut monthly fares to help ease the pain, encourage more regular use of public transport, and help ease the transition to Myki.

The study found that from 1992 to 2012:

  • zone 1 fares more than doubled, increasing by an average 124%;
  • zone 1+2 fares, used by city commuters from the outer suburbs, went up 117%. For passengers travelling in from the former zone 3, the rise was lower due to the removal of zone 3 in 2007, but at 79%, still higher than CPI;
  • single-zone outer-suburban fares (zone 2 or former zone 3) went up 135%, though the area covered now by zone 2 in southern and eastern Melbourne is larger because it now covers the former zone 3;
  • monthly fares rose by an average of 94%, with zone 1 Monthlies up 115%, and zone 1+2 up 120%, and because weekend daily fares reduced and periodical ticket bonuses were withdrawn, these are now poorer value than previously [2];
  • a check of all comparative fares between 1992 and 2012 showed an overall average rise of 104%; and
  • in the same period, ABS figures indicated the costs of travelling by car had risen by 52%, under the CPI figure of 67.6% [3].

Mr Bowen said the CPI plus 5% rise in January 2012 had added to the fare pain, and it was feared fares would jump ahead of inflation again in 2013 if the Coalition government proceeded with the former Labor plan of a second such rise.

“Public transport is getting less affordable for many Melburnians, even as the costs of motoring have reduced in real terms.

“In all cases, even for commuters who benefited from the removal of zone 3, weekday fares have gone up well over the rate of inflation in the past twenty years.”

Mr Bowen said with fast-growing patronage, revenue was rising fast, and the government should structure fares to encourage people to use public transport more often.

“The government should be pricing Monthly tickets in particular to get people on-board public transport regularly, but these fares have jumped by 90% in the past twenty years. They are also priced higher than comparable cities around the world[4].”

Mr Bowen said that reducing Myki Monthly (30 day) Passes to the equivalent of 12 or 13 daily fares would get more people using public transport more regularly, helping to cut traffic congestion, and would also ease the pain of the Myki transition, because Myki Pass does not require users to touch-off when they travel.[5]

“The government needs to work harder at making public transport reliable, frequent, fast and safe — and it’s time they ensured it is also affordable”, Mr Bowen concluded.

* * *

[1] Australian Bureau of Statistics “Consumer Price Index, Australia, Dec 2011” www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/DetailsPage/6401.0Dec%202011?OpenDocument table 1, Index Numbers; All groups CPI; Australia; (December 1991 to December 2011)

[2] In 1992, a Zone 1 Monthly was $57, the equivalent of 16.8 daily fares. In 2012, taking into account Myki Money fares and the $3.30 Weekend fare, a 30 Day Myki Pass is now the equivalent of 21.2 daily fares.

Weekly, Monthly and Yearly tickets formerly included bonus travel on weekends for a second adult and up to six children travelling with the ticketholder. These benefits were removed in the 1990s.

Single zone Weekly, Monthly and Yearly Metcards still include bonus weekend travel in both Melbourne zones. This benefit is being removed with Myki, which will be valid only in the zone paid for on weekends.

[3] Australian Bureau of Statistics “Consumer Price Index, Australia, Dec 2011” www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/DetailsPage/6401.0Dec%202011?OpenDocument table 11, Private motoring; Melbourne” December 1991 to December 2011. (This table also has a calculation for public transport fare increases using a different methodology to the PTUA study, which comes out at 100.9%.)

[4] A study in 2011 found that Melbourne’s 30 Day Myki Passes (all zone combinations) cost on average the equivalent of 20.3 daily fares, which is higher than most other cities, which have an average of 13 days. www.ptua.org.au/2011/02/21/monthly-tickets-expensive/

[5] Myki Pass does not need to be touched-off if travelling in the zone(s) covered by the pass.
“The default fare is $0.00 if… you have a myki pass and touch on in a zone for which your pass is valid.” www.myki.com.au/Fares/Default-fares/Default-fares

Some full fare comparisons

* Zone 1, 2 hour — 1992: $1.90, 2012: $4.00. Up 111% (on Myki $3.28, or 72% above the 1992 price)

* Zone 1, daily — 1992: $3.40, 2012: $7.60. Up 124% (on Myki $6.56, or 92% above the 1992 price)

* Zone 1, monthly — 1992: $57.00, 2012: $122.80. Up 115% (approx the same on Myki)

* Zone 1+2, daily — 1992: $5.70, 2012: $11.90. Up 109% (on Myki $11.08, or 94% above the 1992 price)

* Zone 1+2, monthly — 1992: $86.00, 2012: $189.20. Up 120% (approx the same on Myki)

Full figures — XLS Excel format (36 Kb)