Correction to previous 2 posts on fares

Posted: January 15, 2014 in Transport

Due to a calculation error, some corrections have had to be made to the previous 2 posts, published last week (The cost of transport and fare setting) and earlier today (Follow up to fare setting). The error involved mixing up the average length of trips for buses and ferries (they were swapped around the wrong way), and a rounding error for train fares per passenger km.

An error has been made. This image was procured without obtaining the necessary permission, for comedic purposes.

An error has been made. This image was procured without obtaining the necessary permission, for comedic purposes.

The adjustments show that the operating cost per passenger km is actually the same for trains and buses, but remains higher for ferries. Meanwhile, the fares paid per km now see a much greater disparity between buses and trains. As a result, the initial conclusion that multi-modal fare integration between only buses and trains remains, given that the have almost identical operating costs per passenger km (previously there was a small disparity).

However, this will become harder to achieve politically, given that the increased disparity in fares per passenger km mean having to increase train fares by 50% relative to bus fares. This could be achieved by a combination of bus fare reductions and/or train fare increases, and this in turn could be achieved by the removal of discounts for trains (such as the heavily discounted periodical tickets) or expansion of discounts to buses (such as the off-peak travel discount currently available on trains only).

As before, the second post discusses many of the limitations of the assumptions that underlie this conclusion. Although the figures have changed slightly, the arguments and ideas discussed in those posts, along with the comments, which have proven to be very interesting in their own right, remain worthy of consideration.

  1. TandemTrainRider says:

    @Bambul, as I hinted in a previous comment, just wait till SydneyTrains gets it’s own stats. Interurbans & Regional rail represent less than 10% of the patronage by trip, and (IIRC) approx 15% by revenue and still less than 20% by passenger km. Yet it’s probably ~30% of the cost attributed to rail travel. That’ll make SydneyTrains the cheapest mode on a per PaxKM basis.

    You get a similar effect if you split out the STA from all busses too of course.

  2. @TandemTrainRider –

    Yes, STA have a cost recovery of around 48%, which is much higher than the 29% for all buses. Though I wonder if that is because Travel Tens are counted as STA fares only. Hopefully once Opal is fully rolled out it will provide much more accurate information.

  3. TandemTrainRider says:

    Completely off topic, but since @Bambul quoted it, have a look that the graph on page 12 of the final RailCorp annual report: (Here)

    Maintenance on rail has been capped at an absolute and probably arbitrary amount being the same as it was when the LNP came to power. As far as I can see, this is the *only* place the DoT has managed to contain the growth in costs, and it is deeply deeply suspicious that the amount of maintenance “needed” would cost exactly the same amount each of the last 3 years.

    The same happened last time the DoT took over rail administration during the Shirley/PTC era in the early 70s: the biggest honey pot of funds (outside staffing) from rail perway maintenance was raided for everything else in their charter. The consequences were hidden by an equivalent cutback in perway inspections … until the Granville disaster.

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