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Public Transport Rip-off

By wildturkeycanoe - 12 January 2012 76

Our second car is currently out of rego, waiting for the Christmas tide to turn and money to start flowing again. My wife was going to take the kids for a trip to the mall tomorrow, which means using [gasp] public transport.

Now for an adult with 3 children, one under 5, the cash fare for a return trip adds up to $15.20. Had the car been registered, it would be more like [15km return at approx 8L/100km = 1.2 Litres. @ $1.45/L for unleaded = $1.75] 2 bucks.

Working on an average usage of say 4 trips per week for shopping and other things, it would be $60.80/week, or $3161.00 per year for bus fares.

The same cost for car is $364 in fuel, plus registration of &829.90 and say $500 in “book service” and insurance. This is still $1467.10 cheaper than a bus.

Myway [$2.52 single trip adult x 2 for return = $5.04, $0.95 single trip student [two of] return = $3.80] is $8.84/day or as traveled above equates to $1838.72, or $144.82 more expensive than a car.

WHY would anyone sacrifice this amount of money on a service that for starters you have to walk over a kilometre to access, exposed to all kinds of weather, that doesn’t take you exactly where you want and does not deliver your groceries to your driveway or doorstep? [Yes, I know about those who don’t have licences or cars etc.] On top of that, if you rely on public transport it leaves you stranded after hours [does not operate all through the night], takes far longer than a car to get to destination and if you go further afield you have to get on and off up to 3 times.

ACTION – A Costly Travesty In Our Nation.

What’s Your opinion?


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Public Transport Rip-off
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DrKoresh 11:38 am 16 Jan 12

I agree with that assessment, firebrand, but you forgot to mention that some bus routes do not operate on weekends, and that anyone wishing to spend a night out (at the theatre, or a concert or, more likely, the pub) has to hope that their activity concludes before the buses do (which is before midnight during the week and at 7pm on sundays!), and that there is a risk (a small one, but not insignificant) to having to wait up to an hour for a connecting bus late at night, especially in places like the woden interchange. Thankfully they demolished Belco interchange where you were trapped like a rat if the shit hit the fan, but the new ones are so far removed from well trafficked areas that they still present a risk.

Sorry, I agree with you for the most part, but there are significant issues with out transport service that I don’t think should be swept under the rug.

firebrand_analyst 11:17 am 16 Jan 12

For completeness, I want to mention the non-material arguments in the debate of private versus public transport. There are downsides to relying on public transport in Canberra, however, there are a number of plus sides too often not considered. Whether public transport works for you depends on whether you can mitigate the cons so that they matter less than all the positives.

Downsides:

You cannot always afford to take five extra minutes to get ready because of the risk of missing a bus and having to wait another hour;

If you need to be somewhere at a certain time you need to plan accordingly and may sometimes have to be more than half an hour early to avoid being late;

The journey takes longer;

Buses may not take you everywhere you want to go (e.g. the observatory at Mt Stromlo) or you may have to change to a second bus that has a long wait between connections;

Other people catch buses and you may have to interact with them. Personally I don’t consider this a con, however, if you are bubblewrap and helicopter parents you might overconcern yourselves with the potential risk of your darlings catching a common cold or encountering unsavoury types from outside your social circle;

The weather in Canberra can be unpleasant to be exposed to for the walk to the bus stop and waiting;
Generally it’s difficult to carry a large amount of items on a bus so you have to shop more frequently. I did once carry a new vacuum cleaner home on the bus though, so it can be done.

Upsides:

You have greater flexibility of when you pay for your transport and costs are spread more evenly throughout the year;

You (and your children) get the exercise of walking regularly;

You can engage more fully with children while you’re sitting on a bus than you can if a significant portion of your attention has to be on driving. I love the free time I have to read, chat with friends or daydream while I’m on a bus and someone else is getting me to my destination;

Children get to learn how to be aware of their surroundings, manage time and plan. When they become teenagers they will have more independence and won’t be bugging you for lifts everywhere;

The space you currently use to park the second car at home can be used for something else if it is off-road. It’s not just a spare parking space for friends who visit but somewhere you can set up a game of outdoor table tennis during the day if your family want to do something other than going to the mall. That’s just an example, but you can get a bit creative depending what your yard is like. Don’t children play in the yard anymore?

You never have to find a park, wash or re-fuel the car.

Oh, and here’s a couple of tips from a public transport user for anyone who is new to public transport in Canberra.

Have a map of the route handy or talk to the bus driver about when to press the bell if you’re catching the bus route for the first time;

Budget emergency taxi money just in case (have had to use this once in two years in Canberra);

Don’t be embarrassed to accept lifts from friends;

Say hello and thank-you to the bus drivers;

Carry an umbrella, a scarf in winter and a hat in summer;

Take a book or tablet with you for long, boring waits and journeys;

Don’t whinge on RiotACT if your facts are wrong because you couldn’t be bothered to do your research properly.

firebrand_analyst 11:09 am 16 Jan 12

As someone who relies on public transport daily and will likely continue to do so for a while, I was curious enough to re-do WildTurkeyCanoe’s analysis on the weekend to see if public transport is financially viable for families as well as people without any dependents. It turns out that there were errors made that change the results to public transport not being such a big rip-off after all. Sorry WildTurkeyCanoe, but when you only look for evidence that supports the view that you already have you often turn out to miss quite a few things. The following note is long, so here’s a TLDR summary. Public transport should be cheaper for your family WTC, although perhaps not significantly enough for your family to want to utilise it.

Costs of regular weekday transport in Canberra
Annual cost of cheap car
$ 1889
Annual MAX cost of 1 adult MyWay discount fare
$1032.48
Annual MAX cost of 1 student MyWay discount fare
$ 318.72
Annual MAX cost of 1 adult and 2 students on MyWay discount fare
$ 1653.12
Annual MAX cost of 1 adult and 3 students on MyWay discount fare
$ 1955.52
Annual estimated cost for your travel suggestion for 1 adult, 2 students on discount MyWay fare
$ 1501.41
Annual estimated cost for your travel suggestion for 1 adult, 3 students on discount MyWay fare
$ 1803.81

I don’t expect you to believe me without evidence so the following paragraphs tell you how I got these numbers.

Firstly, depreciation for a $3000 car (estimated at a rate of loss of 10% of value a year over 10 years) is still $195 per year. Assuming that your other costs are accurate, that you never incur extra costs through having an accident or needing to replace expensive car parts, that your partner never needs to pay for parking for longer than 3hrs because she wants to take the kids to a movie or has to pay for parking in Civic because she wants to go to different specialty stores, then your annual cost of running a car should be $1889. This is a MINIMUM because of the all the assumptions we have made about being able to ignore additional costs.

Secondly, you haven’t looked at the fare structure properly. I checked the Action website (http://www.transport.act.gov.au/myway/fares.html) and you have completely overlooked the difference in off-peak fares, the monthly fare caps and the 5% discount on MyWay fares if you set-up automatic recharge or use BPAY.

Adult fare breakdown:

1 x Adult peak MyWay fare ($2.52) * 36 trips capped per month = Maximum capped $90.72 per month or $1088.64 per year

1 x Adult peak discounted MyWay fare ($2.39) * 36 trips capped per month = Maximum capped $86.04 per month or $1032.48 per year.

1 x Adult return travel during peak time 4 days per week, 52 weeks a year (418 single trips @ $2.39 discount fare) = $994.24.

Off-peak adult fares are cheaper still. Let’s say your family travel peak one way and off-peak (between 9am – 4.30pm weekdays) the other. This gives 50% of adult fares at the lower rate of $1.90 per trip (using the 5% discount off the $2 MyWay off-peak fare). The cap will kick in at 36 paid fares of any type per calendar month so that makes 18 peak trips and 18 off-peak trips before further travel that month becomes free. For the estimate of 4 return trips per week it becomes 209 cheaper off-peak fares.

1 x Adult with 50% off-peak travel with discount MyWay fare = $926.64 Maximum capped per year

1 x Adult with 50% off-peak return travel for 4 days per week, 52 weeks per year with discount MyWay fare = $896.61

For your situation, make this estimate smaller if your famility don’t expect to travel all-year round, if more travel is off-peak or you occasionally do the gentlemanly thing of picking your family up on your way home from work.

School age student fare breakdown:

1 x student non-school day MyWay fare ($1.26) * 26 trips capped per month = Maximum capped $32.76 per month or $393.12 per year per student.

1 x student non-school day (also not a weekend or public holiday) discounted MyWay fare ($1.20) * 26 trips capped per month = Maximum capped $31.20 per month or $374.40 per year per student.

In actual fact, these costs should be less because on school days the student fare is only $0.95 as you noted in your post. Going through the school term calendar and assuming travel every weekday of the year I estimate the annual cost for one school age student month-by month. For example, January would cost the full $31.20 per month as it is all school holidays, but March would only be $23.40 for capped student travel during the school term.

1 x student travel every weekday of the year on discounted MyWay fare = $302.40.

Family Cost breakdown:

A group of 1 paying adult and 2 paying children would expect to pay no more than $1653.12 per year if they use a MyWay card and recharge automatically or through BPAY. Adding a third paying student increases it to $1955.52. I’ll agree that this starts to look potentially more expensive than driving but consider that this is the MAXIMUM cost of public transport for unlimited peak hour bus travel in a year.

For the levels of use you stated, and assuming some off-peak travel, you are more likely to be looking at annual costs of $1501.41 with 2 children and $1803.81 for three. Maybe not a lot cheaper than running a car when you have to pay for three dependents but certainly a far cry from the rip-off you initially claimed. In fact you could potentially save over $300 per year while the youngest is still under five.

DrKoresh 1:12 pm 15 Jan 12

Thank you OP! I’ve been railing against the govt.’s policy of pushing for people to use more public transport without bothering to either substantially improve bus services (my suburb doesn’t even have a bus route on weekends) or at least making it cheaper to offset how monumentally crappy it is. If it weren’t for my chronic substance abuse problems I’d just learn to drive and finally get a license. As it is, however, I refuse to ever drive while intoxicated so I’m stuck between a rock and a hard place.

wildturkeycanoe 1:02 pm 15 Jan 12

s-s-a said :

Why would my kids walk 1km to the bus stop to catch it for the last 300m? Chauffeur, because of stranger danger

You do realise that streets are *safer* when there are people on them?

Seriously, is there really anywhere in Canberra where an adult and children are at significant mortal risk while walking to a bus stop in broad daylight??

Yes, in our suburb, in the last 12 months there have been broad daylight muggings and people being attacked by escaped “pet” dogs, causing serious injury to many including mums with prams.

Brianna said :

Innovation said :

I agree that school children of all ages should travel for free when with an adult. However, since it is only your “second car” that’s not registered, what are you doing with your first car. Perhaps the wife is the one that needs the car and not you.

+1……

– 10 ……. you didn’t read my explanation as to why the first car isn’t available???? Read again and see if your +1 applies.

s-s-a 9:57 am 15 Jan 12

Why would my kids walk 1km to the bus stop to catch it for the last 300m? Chauffeur, because of stranger danger

You do realise that streets are *safer* when there are people on them?

Seriously, is there really anywhere in Canberra where an adult and children are at significant mortal risk while walking to a bus stop in broad daylight??

Brianna 9:55 am 15 Jan 12

Innovation said :

I agree that school children of all ages should travel for free when with an adult. However, since it is only your “second car” that’s not registered, what are you doing with your first car. Perhaps the wife is the one that needs the car and not you.

+1……

miz 9:46 am 15 Jan 12

Wildturkey, you complain that others do not read your posts, but do you yourself not read other people’s posts?

Your complaints have been shot into smithereens! Others have clearly shown your maths to be questionable to say the least (eg you have not factored the costs of parking into your calculations; and you have way overestimated the cost of one adult and two paying concession holders by calculating the cost on cash fares, which you’d have to be an eejit to use).

If you don’t want to use the bus, that’s your choice. It is obviously not as convenient as car travel, but it is pretty cheap and if you do some basic research on the ACTION website you can see the benefits of week day off peak and commuter travel.

Why not stand corrected with good grace and bite the bullet – go to your local MyWay agent and get some cards for your family’s occasional use? MyWay is set up to record usage, so the more you use the buses, the better the service should get.

buzz819 9:24 am 15 Jan 12

You can put an end to the argument like this.

I want to go to the mall to pick up some items.

If I catch the bus from Giralang, during peak times the bus comes every twenty minutes, every hour after that.

I miss the first bus, I don’t know, didn’t read the bus timetable properly etc. (human error) I then have to wait another twenty minutes for the next bus. The bus then takes 20 minutes to get to the mall. So that is 40 minutes that a 10 minute trip has taken me.

I then do the shopping and forget that I need to bring extra shopping bags, in a car, no problem everything goes straight in the boot, in a bus? Well you have to pay extra for your groceries to get them home.

Lets say it takes me 40 minutes to do my shopping, plus 5-10 minutes to walk to the mall and back from the interchange, I wanted to get in there early, but missed the 8.57 bus so had to catch the 9.27 one. That puts is about 10.30, time to go home. Go to the bus station, ohh look, another 30 minute wait to get home, good good. the trip back is a bit quicker, it takes 12 minutes to get back to Giralang. It would have charged me two rides it would have cost me between $4 – $5, plus $6 – $7 on extra shopping bags, and most probably a coffee because a wait is always better with a coffee. On top of that it would have taken 3 hours to do 50 minutes worth of chores.

Now I like my life, I’d put an honest value of my time at a respectable $26 an hour.

The bus ride –
3 hours – $78
Shopping bags – $6
Bus trip – $5
Total – $89 + grocery’s.

The car
Someone said a Hyundai Getz works out about 36c per k/m in depreciation if that is right, then even though I do have a much older car, I will say that it’s depreciation in about $1 to over estimate it.
6.7km’s – $7
Fuel – 56c
Parking – free
1 hour – $26
Rego – $1.9 (for the day)
Insur. $2.6 (for the day)
Total – $35.

So I save 2 man hours, in life, I don’t waste money on shopping bags, I don’t get fat because of the extra calories in the coffee, I am more relaxed because I can do what I want to do when I want to do it, not when a bus decides to come pick me up.

Then on top of that, you don’t pay rego and insurance by the km, so I still have to pay that while the car is sitting at home, so losing even more money there.

So in summary, you save time by driving, you save money by driving, you don’t get fat and you don’t have to sit with crazy people.

dungfungus 9:17 am 15 Jan 12

Being over 60 yrs, I can travel anywhere around Sydney on almost any form of public transport for $2.50 per day with a ‘Seniors All-day Excursion’ ticket. Now that’s value.

The Dark said :

Morgan said :

Canberra has by far the cheapest public transport in Australia.

I dunno, in Melbourne you don’t even need to pay for public transport…

Being over 60 yrs, I can travel anywhere around Sydney on almost any form of public transport for $2.50 per day with a ‘Seniors All-day Excursion’ ticket. Now that’s value.

That’s fine if you are retired but if you are still employed you cannot get or use a Senior’s Card.

BimboGeek 9:00 am 15 Jan 12

Well I’ve had enough amusement from this article but there are a few more people who still haven’t seen you lose your cool enough times. Please continue.

wildturkeycanoe 8:45 am 15 Jan 12

How this subject drifted across the median into a head on with crash results I don’t know, but I’ll bring it back to a bus vs car debate.
So, the older pre-90s metal boxes without crumple zones are unsafe for passengers compared to micro buzz boxes? There’s a real good reason not to catch a bus – no crumple zones, no airbags and not even a seatbelt to prevent one being thrown out of the vehicle!!
It is now not only cheaper to go to the mall in a bus, but according to the naysayers it is also safer.
Yes, yes, I know someone will find data to support buses as cheap and safe in comparison to vehicles. I can provide data that shows there is miniscule risk in being in the car with me, based on crash history over the last 20 years.
Nobody has yet to refute my original argument on cost and convenience, they’d rather make personal attacks and diversions. Keep it coming, but stick to the topic.

creative_canberran 12:21 am 15 Jan 12

wildturkeycanoe said :

Pajeros have been around a lot longer than ANCAP, my particular car predates it. Backing into a tree stump caused minimal bending of the steel bumper, a hybrid would have twisted into an un-driveable wreck. Pfft…ANCAP. Crashing into a 2 tonne block of concrete is not the same as a front or side crash test, and they do not test modern cars by crashing them into older models. Big difference in results if that was actually done.

I’m going to go out on a limb and say you’re a tool.

ANCAP, NHTSA and EuroNCAP ratings are determined by crashing vehicles into collapsable steel barriers, or vice versa for side impact. The steel barriers replicate the impact of another vehicle that has a crumple zone.

If your Mitsubishi Pajero is pre 2000 model year (which it would be if it predates ANCAP which began in 1993), then the new isn’t good: http://www.racv.com.au/wps/wcm/connect/Internet/Primary/my+car/car+safety/used+car+safety+ratings

Used Car Safety Ratings are based on real world accident figures, 1992-99 Pajeros receive a 3-star (Marginal) rating. It sure wouldn’t be any better for pre 92 models.

The bumper bar and everything outside the passenger cabin is actually designed to deliberately disintegrate in modern vehicles. Some of it does so at a controlled rate to act is a shock absorber, so called crumple zones. Other parts do so to avoid cabin intrusion and possible injury.

The point is passenger safety is determined by the rigidness of the passenger compartment and the ability to reduce blunt force in a collision.

As you can see in this test between an old and new European vehicles: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3l4YBf2tjag
The bumper on the old vehicle didn’t even dent, but the passenger cabin caved in.

And here again between two American vehicles: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PFPTiCEuC1Q&feature=related

Older cars to not have the same rigidness, the cabin compresses causing greater passenger injury via direct impact. Meanwhile the lack of crumple to disperse energy results in blunt force.

murraythecat 9:26 pm 14 Jan 12

Pajeros have been around a lot longer than ANCAP, my particular car predates it. Backing into a tree stump caused minimal bending of the steel bumper, a hybrid would have twisted into an un-driveable wreck. Pfft…ANCAP.
Uh, I think that is exactly why the hybrid would be SAFER, because it takes the impact & crumples, thus avoiding the persons inside absorbing the impact & getting squished. The steel boxes that are strong & tough, in a collision, have nowhere to transfer the force of the crash except to the softest thing involved, the passengers. I would rather have a crumpled shitty written off hybrid with safe children inside, than hard as nails tough no crumple car that would use my kids’ heads as crumple zones.

keepitup 6:37 pm 14 Jan 12

The Dark said :

Morgan said :

Canberra has by far the cheapest public transport in Australia.

I dunno, in Melbourne you don’t even need to pay for public transport…

Being over 60 yrs, I can travel anywhere around Sydney on almost any form of public transport for $2.50 per day with a ‘Seniors All-day Excursion’ ticket. Now that’s value.

wildturkeycanoe 4:39 pm 14 Jan 12

Thanks Bimbogeek for your explanation of my current condition. Yes, I’m doing the intelligent solution and spending the rest of my hours being “someone who (sometimes unwittingly) by speech or action demonstrates a lack of knowledge or misconception of a particular subject or situation to the amusement of others”.
Is everyone amused yet or shall I continue to be indignant with the costs of public transport?
Personally, I find this quite enjoyable except for the name calling….

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