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Would you take a bus if it were ‘free’?

By 13 October 2008 63

What if every ACT holder of a driver’s licence was required to pay a small public transport fee in order to renew their licence?

What if every person who paid this tax was then given a bus pass that was integrated into their licence card that allowed them to ride for free?

Would that get more people out of their cars and onto public transport?

I mean, if you have already paid for it, don’t you have a greater motivation to then use it?

Hmmmm?

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63 Responses to Would you take a bus if it were ‘free’?
#1
Cameron11:26 am, 13 Oct 08

Interesting idea, but the cost isn’t what is keeping me from catching a bus. I need a car to visit clients during the day.

So as someone who hasn’t caught a bus since high school, I wouldn’t really be a fan of the idea.

#2
astrojax11:30 am, 13 Oct 08

i would certainly catch the bus if it was free – if it went (more or less) when i needed it to… getting to work isn’t an issue, it’s getting home when i work later than core hours (like, almost always) from the parl triangle… but i’m guessing that increased use would likley increase services and it would snowball into a useful ‘service’ like it oughta be.

i’d be in that.

#3
Sands11:31 am, 13 Oct 08

so you pay a (small) fee to use the buses, AND you pay for your registration. Why wouldn’t you drive again? It would just be another useless tax. Include free buses in your car registration and maybe.

#4
PBO11:34 am, 13 Oct 08

A great idea, but it would eventually fail as pre paying for something will initially work, but over time with the assumed public interest the pre paid quotient would eventually run out causing fares to be raised. Added to this the costs of maintenance and whatever mysterious charges the transport union would come up with would undermine the program in about six months. Plus rising petrol costs, workers pay etc etc etc……..

#5
jessieduck11:34 am, 13 Oct 08

Interesting idea. I’d support it but I don’t have a licence so I catch the bus anyways.

I think they should trial free rides for certain times of the day to increase numbers on quieter services (ie, before 7.30am, after 7pm) I could see a lot of people getting used to going to work for free and then paying the $3 to get home in a peak service.

#6
PsydFX11:34 am, 13 Oct 08

I think that makes no sense, why would you penalise the people who are incapable / can’t afford to get thier drivers licenses – i.e. the people who usually depend of busses?

The fact of the matter is, as I have said before, Canberrans on average are the best paid in Australia, and most of us prefer the convenience a car gives us regardless of fuel or parking prices. On top of that most of us don’t like catching busses because they are moving germ factories, and most us feel uncomforatble sitting next to smackies and space invaders.

The only way to make people catch busses in Canberra is to pay us all considerably less so that owning and running becomes financially impossible.

This is such a dead political issue.

#7
PsydFX11:36 am, 13 Oct 08

PsydFX said :

The only way to make people catch busses in Canberra is to pay us all considerably less so that owning and running becomes financially impossible.

owning and running a car that is.

#8
harvyk111:44 am, 13 Oct 08

Despite what people may think backed on some of my previous posts, I don’t think that a free bus is the answer. Getting buses to go frequently, come on time, and take a somewhat non scenic route is the answer. Not free buses.

Making parking in the city a nightmare is not the answer either.

#9
Bluebelle11:45 am, 13 Oct 08

ACTION needs to do some marketing..make its ticketing discounts more worthwile… give out 1 week free trial tickets…I started catching the bus 3 months ago..now to drive is an inconveniece…the 701 from Spence to the City is very social, great way to meet people..I have also read 2 novels and arrive home relaxed. Not to mention no hassles parking and watching what I drink and after work drinks.

#10
OliverCromwell11:46 am, 13 Oct 08

The cost isn’t the main reason people don’t use busses.
The gratuitous waste of time is the reason people don’t use busses.
Around the peak times it’s not unusual to have 3 or 4 busses (intertown route) drive straight past without stopping.
They’re almost always overcrowded.

What’s worse though is when you’re relying on non-intertown bus that’s coming once on the half hour or hour, and one of the following two things happens:
A: the bus is full (happened to me with the 30 from the city around 6pm – oh joy! Add half an hour onto what’s already a longer journey then by car)

B: arrives early
Busses running late are an annoyance, but the way busses run early is obscene.
It isn’t at all unusual for any bus after around 6:30pm to be running as much as 10 minutes early which means needing to waste yet more time by allowing for +/- 5-10 minutes for the time you need to be at the bus stop to catch the damn thing.

Going on the 30 to Belconnen, I remember a few times where the driver was speeding ridiculously, not only being 10 minutes early, but tearing along Baldwin Dr and down the hill across Gininderra Dr at what has to have been 100 km/h.

It isn’t usually the case that busses don’t arrive – when people complain of this it seems to usually be the case that the bus was running ahead of schedule and arrived before they did.

Now for me as a student at ANU, there isn’t much point to driving to uni as there’s no where to friggin park but for professionals working in and around city whose time is worth $30+ an hour, you’d need to be paying them to get them to take the bus.

#11
PM11:48 am, 13 Oct 08

The intertown routes are more or less the onlt part of ACTION that make any money.

If light rail is implemented between the town centres (as is being spoken about), and the buses were to continue to operate as “feeders” into the town cente interchanges, you might actually have a situation where the buses would operate at a loss anyway. If that were to occur, you’d need to re-evaluate whether it’s worth collecting fares on buses given the overheads.

#12
simbo11:50 am, 13 Oct 08

It’s interesting – I rode the bus on a regular basis back in 96 or so when there was a driver’s strike (which DIDN’T mean they didn’t drive – instead they just didn’t collect fares!)

However – at that point I was working in Civic. One bus trip only.

For any combination other than that… the bus is essentially useless/awkward/time-consuming. If you work in Civic and live on a bus route that can take you directly to civic … frankly, I dunno why you’re paying for carparking instead, you must be insane!

#13
PsydFX11:56 am, 13 Oct 08

Here’s a nice green policy for you all that could potentially annoy enough people forcing them to consider either car-pooling or public transport.

More Transit 2 Lanes.
Make a lane of the Parkway T2, a lane on Monaro Hwy T2, make another lane on Adelaide Ave T2 and then police it.

Make it so inconveniet for single car commuters that they are forced to reconsider their travel habits.

#14
deye12:17 pm, 13 Oct 08

It’s not the cost keeping people away it’s the sucky service.

#15
Deano12:29 pm, 13 Oct 08

PsydFX said :

PsydFX said :

The only way to make people catch busses in Canberra is to pay us all considerably less so that owning and running becomes financially impossible.

owning and running a car that is.

I would argue the opposite. You pretty much have to own a car – try catching the bus to Bunnings on the weekend via the kids soccer match, or doing the weekly shopping etc.

Owning a car currently involves a considerable fixed cost – registration, insurance, depreciation. The less it is driven, the more it costs per kilometre, or conversely the more it is used the lower the cost. It therefore doesn’t make sense to own a car (which is a necessity) and then not use it. If you want people to use buses instead of cars you need to reduce the cost of leaving the car in the garage.

#16
burkes0812:31 pm, 13 Oct 08

Don’t forget the shift workers of the world. Way too hard to get buses on night/early morning shifts without having to leave 4 hours before you start.

#17
madocci12:37 pm, 13 Oct 08

Why would anyone who has kids and works take the bus? It is not practical in this town. Catching buses to childcare, schools, then work, then back again in the afternoon would be just insane. The constant punishment of people who drive to work is rediculous! We have roads, why cant people use them without being punished? We do pay for them after all!

@PsydFX – you think making the parkway a crawl in the morning would make people use a bus or carpool? Try driving down the M5 in sydney at peak hour. They have access to public transport that is way more time and cost efficient than ours and they all still drive their cars to and from work, pay tolls to use the road daily and drive at a snails pace.

#18
jessieduck12:43 pm, 13 Oct 08

burkes08 said :

Don’t forget the shift workers of the world. Way too hard to get buses on night/early morning shifts without having to leave 4 hours before you start.

I’m a shift worker but I’m lucky that my house and my work are on the same bus route. The only shifts i can’t catch buses for are the ones that start at 6am and Sunday night if I finish late- the majority of the time I catch the bus, I am also lucky enough to have nice colleagues who help me out when I’m in a bind + because i don’t maintain a car, the $20 to work in a taxi is an expense I cop.

Buses can work but I admit I work at making them work for me.

#19
PsydFX12:53 pm, 13 Oct 08

madocci said :

@PsydFX – you think making the parkway a crawl in the morning would make people use a bus or carpool? Try driving down the M5 in sydney at peak hour. They have access to public transport that is way more time and cost efficient than ours and they all still drive their cars to and from work, pay tolls to use the road daily and drive at a snails pace.

Of course there will always be people who will need to / choose to drive.
All I’m trying to get accross, is that if busses became the faster way to get to work maybe they’d be used a little more than they are and there’d be more car pooling which is better for the environment.

#20
poptop1:01 pm, 13 Oct 08

Having to provide enough infrastructure to shunt both the cubicle dwellers and the school kids in the mornings is what makes ACTION a money pit.

Until we formalise a 24/7 work structure, our public transportation is going to cost us and cost us plenty. Alternatively, we can ditch the peak services and just keep the buses for the people ambling about between 9-5.

#21
jakez1:11 pm, 13 Oct 08

The fare is not the reason why I rarely catch buses. It’s time and convenience that prevents me from regularly catching buses (as well as the bus that goes to Fyshwick not having bike racks).

For most people who drive, the small cost of the fare is already most likely cheaper than the petrol used. Taking a further 1.5/3 of that amount probably isn’t going to be a great motivation.

Finally I don’t like this policy because it is essentially trickery. If a robber takes my money at gunpoint, and then says ‘you know, I’m actually a vacuum cleaner salesman on the side and I tell you what, take one for free’, I’m still being robbed.

#22
AussieGal831:15 pm, 13 Oct 08

There was a discussion about this a few months ago. I think we came to the conclusion that its not the price, but the bus schedule that deters people.

#23
sepi1:20 pm, 13 Oct 08

The fare deterred me. My bus went from 2 houses away, direct to work. I caught it for quite a while.

But 6.00 a day to bus, or 7.50 to drive, I eventually ended up driving. (I actually started driving in Winter – waiting for a late bus in minus degrees is no fun).

Pensioners pour onto the buses after nine when their cheap tix start working. I’d make buses free for everyone between 9 and 2.

And I’d reduce the price for normal hours. Everytime ACTION loses more money they increase the prices – which just drives people away. If they reduced the prices more people might bus, and the service might become more viable.

#24
fozzy1:23 pm, 13 Oct 08

Some thoughts:

1. There are many people who salary sacrifice their car. One of the conditions of this is that you must drive in excess of 25,000km per year. The Greens regularly complain about the green house gas emissions this causes – and rightly so. What I’d like to see is that public transport usage can be used to count towards your 25,000km. Administratively it probably wouldn’t be easy – especially as most places now have time, rather that distance based ticketing.

2. There needs to be bi-partisan agreement to really improve public transport. i.e. for the next 10+ years governments will expect public transport to be loss making. I reckon you need that sort of time frame to get people to change behaviour in the time cycle of car purchases.

3. Free bus use is a good idea to get people using public transport – I have to admit to not taking buses at time because I don’t understand the ticketing and couldn’t deal with the hassle.

#25
tonkatoy1:27 pm, 13 Oct 08

If you want a FREE buse ride……just buy a pushie…..the “tip shop” has some rippers, throw it on the front of the bus…..enter the bus, no money changes hands and the best bit is you have the right to pusn in at the front of the queue and take a seat while leaving the “real people” who pay for the service queing up and by the time you get on the bus its standing room only, bad luck if you an “older person with crook knees”. What else would the “peddlers”like for nothing ?

#26
RuffnReady1:43 pm, 13 Oct 08

PsydFX said :

Here’s a nice green policy for you all that could potentially annoy enough people forcing them to consider either car-pooling or public transport.

More Transit 2 Lanes.
Make a lane of the Parkway T2, a lane on Monaro Hwy T2, make another lane on Adelaide Ave T2 and then police it.

Make it so inconveniet for single car commuters that they are forced to reconsider their travel habits.

Hell yes. Do that, offer free parking for cars carrying 3 or more people in the town centre car parks, and set up a suburb-by-suburb online car-pooling network to make it easy for people to network with others in their suburb going the same way.

2 people in a car causes the same pollution as public transport, so you’d get massive benefits whilst not spending hundreds of millions on unnecessary unfrastructure.

#27
AG Canberra1:43 pm, 13 Oct 08

I don’t understand why public transport is so difficult in Canberra. With our town centre set up – surely it is easier to run the busses to them in the morning and away from them in the afternoons?

I am a regular busser and yes it takes longer than driving but at 22 bucks a week is far cheaper than paying for fuel and $45 bucks a week for parking. I am in the great position to be able to chose one of 5 departure times to and from and I have never had to sit next to “smackies and space invaders” (just the occasional “larger” person.

Yep – make it free for a set period and let everyone experience the plusses of busses….

#28
PsydFX1:59 pm, 13 Oct 08

AG Canberra said :

I am in the great position to be able to chose one of 5 departure times to and from and I have never had to sit next to “smackies and space invaders” (just the occasional “larger” person.
quote]

If you rarely have to sit next to smackies or space invaders on the bus, it’s likely you are probably one of those two types of people :)

#29
astrojax2:00 pm, 13 Oct 08

so you pay a (small) fee to use the buses, AND you pay for your registration. Why wouldn’t you drive again?

’cause then someone else pays for the petrol andf the angst of driving through the melee of arrogance that is canberra peak moment traffic… plus, i actually really enjoy riding the bike (some people seem to forget this aspect of the question), but i know i have the car for when routine changes and i need it.

#30
pelican2:39 pm, 13 Oct 08

The bus service in Canberra is not good enough to entice me to use it (even if I could – I have a small disability). It takes my hubby nearly an hour to get to work on a bus and 10 minutes by car. He needs the car anyway to see clients during the day.

There are many reasons why people might not choose to use buses other than the cost factor.

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