Last week I wrote about free fares and as expected, it generated plenty of discussion. The issue of fares is one that comes up quite often and while I think there are more important things we need to address, such as improving frequencies (especially on trains), it’s useful to look from time to time at how other cities set their fares.

As part of this I’ve tried to use cities that are relatively similar in size and urban form – i.e. there’s not a lot of point comparing a compact European cities with a century old metro networks moving millions of people daily. I’ve also tried to keep the comparator cities to those with integrated ticketing and fare systems too – there were some systems I didn’t include simply because their fare systems are too difficult to easily explain. I have excluded any special fares, such as additional costs to travel to an airport. Feel free to put the details of other cities in the comments.

Auckland

Auckland’s uses a zonal fare system that charges you for how many zones you pass through on buses or trains. Transfers are allowed for up to 5 individual trips providing you tag on within 30 minutes of tagging off the previous service and complete your journey within 4 hours.

Fares are substantially cheaper if you use a HOP card and there are concession fares for children and students. The SuperGold card gives free travel to holders after 9am or anytime on weekends and public holidays. Travel before 9am and seniors without a SuperGold card need to pay the full fare. The adult prices are shown below.

Monthly passes for buses and trains exist but cover the entire region but at $215 they are now only useful for those doing long commutes, generally those commuting every day for 4-zones or more a trip.

On top of the bus and train fares are ferry fares which can be paid for with HOP but are not integrated into the overall fare structure.

Wellington

Wellington is our closest major PT comparison city and of all of the comparisons listed here, the only one without some form of integrated ticketing that covers all modes. Wellington uses a zone system that radiates out from the central city but due to the lack of integrated fares, changing between trains and buses to complete a journey requires paying additional fares so is not a zone system like most other cities would consider it – it does work for transfers between buses and other buses but only if using a Snapper Card.

For buses there are off-peak discounts if you use a Snapper Card but there are no off-peak discounts for trains but the zone fares are the same price per trip if you were to buy a 10-trip train ticket.

I also have to say that the Metlink website was probably the most difficult of the lot to find the information, it was even worse that Auckland Transport’s and that’s saying something.

Brisbane

Brisbane’s buses, trains and ferries are run by TransLink and the fare structure covers all of South East Queensland with a zonal fare structure radiating out from central Brisbane. There are quite a few different discounts that people can get. The stored value card is called a Go Card with fares at least 30% cheaper than cash. Travelling off peak, 8:30am to 3:30pm and after 7pm on Weekdays as well as all day on weekends and public holidays is an additional 20% off. On top of this, after you make 8 journeys from Monday to Sunday then the rest of your travel is half price, regardless of the number of zones you travel. Concession fares apply to children, students, seniors and defence force veterans.

On top of this, the rules for transfers between services are quite generous with a one-hour time limit which would help make it easier to use PT for errands and short meetings.

One thing that’s worth noting is that while there appears to be a lot of zones, it does cover a large area and most of Brisbane’s urban area is within 2-3 zones. As a quick comparison, the adult go card fares for zones 1-3 in NZ dollars are, $3.52, $4.29 and $6.55 respectively.

Perth

Transperth runs the buses, trains and ferries in Perth and uses radial zones, each with each between 8 and 10 kilometres wide. There is also a free zone for travel within the central city area.

Passengers are charged based on how many zones they pass through over a set time, with the time limit depending on how many zones you travel through – cash tickets have the time limit printed on them. There is also what is called a 2-section fare which is for short trips of less than 3.2km and only on a single service. There are no monthly pass options but Perth’s stored value card, called SmartRider, gives a standard 10% discount on fares but if you set it up to automatically top up you get a 20% discount. There are also concession fares for seniors and children.

Vancouver

Like Brisbane, Vancouver’s system is also called Translink and uses a zonal fare system with three zones. The exact size of the zones vary, based in large part on the geography but from the downtown area are about every 8.5km.

The prices are shown below with a comparable rate in NZ Dollars. Concession fares applying for seniors over 65 and children between 5 and 18. The Monthly pass options are not a set multiple of the normal fare, likely due to rounding to the nearest dollar, and so are the equivalent of 38-41 stored value trips. There is a 90-minute time limit on transfers

The system is designed so that if you have a pass for a set number of zones but you need to travel more than  that, it will only charge you the extra you need for the extra zones. There is also a form of off-peak pricing with all journeys in the region that start after 6:30pm on weekdays and all day Saturday, Sunday and holidays only requiring a 1-zone fare.

Calgary

Calgary’s transit network is a mix of buses and a very good light rail network. Overall the system carries around 102 million trips

Calgary runs a flat fare system with adults paying CAD$3.40 ($3.81) for 90 minutes of travel and children between 6 and 17 paying CAD$2.35 ($2.63).

Day Pass and Monthly Pass options also exist with adults paying CAD$106 ($119) for the monthly option so is better value if you were to take more than 31 trips in a month. On top of the standard passes, there are special passes for seniors, people on low incomes and seniors on low incomes. The Low Income Pass varies in price depending on the household income of the person/s applying and range in cost between $5.30 and $53 per month. The Calgary Transit statistics page says the average fare in 2017 was CAD$1.55 so this suggests a large number of people are making use of pass options.

Portland

Portland’s network, under the brand of TriMet, is a mix of buses, streetcars, light rail and some longer distance commuter rail. Ticketing and fares are fully integrated under an adult flat fare of US$2.50 ($3.71) for all travel within a 2½ hour window. Fares are then capped at US$5 per day and US$100 per month ($148), the equivalent of 40 trips. There are separate fares for Children (7-17) and ‘Honored Citizens’ (Over 65, Medicare beneficiaries and riders with a mental or physical disability) which are US$1.25 per, daily capped at US$2.5 and monthly at US$28. There is also an annual pass which is equivalent to 11 months of travel.

The system seems to be designed so that after you’ve commute, the rest of your travel is free.

Interestingly they have also chosen to call their ticketing system HOP and it was introduced in 2017, about 4 years after Auckland’s HOP card was rolled out.

Comparison

As you can see within this sample there are a lot of variations in how fares are charged and how pass options are set. To help compare some of the different options, I have created this graph looking at how much someone would pay (in NZ Dollars) to travel 2km, 5km, 10km, 15km, 20km, 25km, 30km and 35km. This won’t be 100% accurate due to the various differences in each of the systems but gives a useful enough indication of what they will be. The prices used assume you are getting a discount from using something like a HOP card but not any passes. A couple of things you can see from it include:

  • The flat fares are much more expensive for short trips but much cheaper for long trips.
  • At around 10-12km all fares are fairly similar.
  • Auckland and Wellington fares tend to be near the top of the range, especially for longer distance travel.
  • Auckland is the most expensive for travel of about 15-25km, From the city this is about Papatoetoe to Takanini

I also made a comparison in which I assumed 42 trips in month (approximately a standard commute) and included pass options. For Wellington I compared the rail pass options. From this you can see that two cities with flat fares come out very well, especially Calgary, while the two that don’t have pass options, Brisbane and Perth, are the most expensive for longer distance travel.

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116 comments

  1. Does this take into account NZ’s low wage economy and severe housing unaffordability (media this morning) that cranks rent and mortgages up and up and obviously reduces spending elsewhere?

    The fares internationally may appear not dissimilar but affordability in our PT will be undermined as a result. Which may explain why cheaper alternatives like a car that most adults have is hard to discourage, despite AT’s efforts otherwise!

  2. I still say they should abolish the city zone in Auckland. It’s so tiny that anyone in the CBD wanting to go even a short distance to an inner suburb ends up having to pay two zones. Then there’s someone travelling from Mt Albert to Mission Bay being charged three zones despite origin and destination being in the same zone.

    The city zone doesn’t function as a normal zone, but rather as a CBD surcharge. Get rid of it.

    1. Seems kind of brutal you can go as far south as Mt Eden and still be ‘central’ but a five minute bus ride along Quay Street will take you out of the Central Zone and all you’ve gone past is some water and the Port.

    2. It’s a bit like the North Shore where they have split the old city into two. If you go from Greenhithe to Glenfield then you pay for two zones. At does this shit just because they can.

      1. In my submission at the time I suggested all of the Greenhithe peninsular should be in the overlap zone to avoid that, amongst other places.

        1. It would have to be more than just Greenhithe to get rid of the stupid outcomes. To get from Greenhithe to the Albany Domain you get the 120 and change to the 917 on Albany highway towards Unsworth Drive. That takes you into the other fare zone so a cash fare is $7 yet your origin and destination are in the same zone. Somehow HOP figures it out and your Hop card fare fpor the same trip is only $1.90.

          1. Flat fares are a really good solution to these poor boundary outcomes. It would be great to see Auckland adopt the same model that Portland and Calgary have implemented with such success.

          2. Albany Highway is within the overlap, so that whole journey is within the upper north shore zone.

            If you extended that overlap to all of greenhithe, you’d have the same to anywhere in the upper or lower zone.

          3. The overlap seems to work for Hop but not for cash. For cash they hit you with two separate trips, both across two zones. Not exactly a way to encourage people to try PT.

          4. Ah, but they’ve overlooked that with cash fares right from the start, miffy. It would be very easy to show your paper ticket to the second driver and just pay any extra amount. Instead, the benefits of keeping cash fares at least within cooey of reasonable has been thrown into the don’t care bin. It’ll have put off many potential users.

          5. So use a HOP card like 90%+ of your fellow passengers and stop inconveniencing them by fluffing around with cash.

          6. That’s all cash fares on buses Miffy, there is no intergrated fares with paper tickets… you have to buy a new paper full fare ticket every time you step aboard another bus.

            So yeah, get a hop!

          7. Sure there are no integrated fares with cash. But this is far worse. They have specifically designed the system to require a change of buses just within the other fare stage boundary. So the answer is redesign the fare stages taking into account the fact the other part of AT decided you need to change buses there.

          8. The system is designed for Hop, not for cash. If you hadn’t noticed they go to pretty firm lengths to persuade people not to use it.

            Use hop and the transfer is within the zone overlap, so Greenhithe to Albany domain with a transfer is a single zone fare if $1.90.

            I think you are indeed right, the two parts of AT planning almost certainly did not design for this situation. Cash fares aren’t designed for transfers or regular use, and the network designers or the people who created the fare zones wouldn’t have considered the needs of peculiar cash fare to cash fare transfer effects at the border.

          9. Which I can totally accept. There should be a penalty for using cash. Maybe 20% more or even 40% more for cash fares. The problem is that the fare zones never took into account the simple fact that cash customers still need to get about within their own zone too. Charging them nearly 4 times the Hop fare to complete a short trip should be a major embarrassment to AT.

          10. I’m missing something. If going from Greenhithe to Albany you don’t go into the pale blue “Lower North Shore” part, only the grey and royal blue “Upper North Shore” parts. So why is it counting as 2 zones?

            And newcomers to PT will (1) try to catch the bus somewhere, and (2) if it works, buy a HOP card. In that order. Isn’t going totally overboard with cash fares going to stop newcomers?

          11. ‘ “Cash customers” need to get a HOP card, problem solved.’
            OK Zippo but if regular users now own the public transport system and you think it is fair to screw people who seldom use the system, then perhaps we need a public relations campaign to explain that to the public so that at election time they can screw the regular users by electing people who will cut all subsidies and make it entirely users pays.

          12. My best guess is one person designed the fare zones based on geographic features without thinking about routes and the need to change buses. Another designed the routes and changes without considering the zone structure. Both did their best and did a pretty good job. But somewhere above them in the management structure there is a manger responsible for both aspects, who was too incompetent to think it through. I don’t think it was ever the intention of AT to charge $7 for a short trip, it is more likely something that happened because of a dunderhead in middle management.

          13. Roeland: “And newcomers to PT will (1) try to catch the bus somewhere, and (2) if it works, buy a HOP card. In that order. Isn’t going totally overboard with cash fares going to stop newcomers?” Yes. Ignoring cash users in the design is turning their backs on an appropriate advertising and PR mechanism. Hopefully they’re not purposely making it worse for cash users. But from some of the comments here, it seems some people are happy to design just around the existing clientele. People feeling ripped off is bad PR. They should:

            1/ Allow people to put their cash fares towards a HOP card, and
            2/ Allow people to show their ticket from bus 1 to driver of bus 2 in order to get an appropriate (higher for cash) integrated fare.

          14. What’s stopping people who “seldom use the system” from getting a HOP card? In my experience, people who are still using cash are hopelessly disorganised, hold up everyone else on the bus and are often trouble. Frankly, I don’t care if they get charged more, it’s their choice.

          15. Being new to it, Zippo. Young. Or new to the city. Or newly on medication and not allowed to drive. Or hearing the message and giving a lower carbon lifestyle a chance.

            They try it, and as Roeland says, once they understand and see the benefits, then they buy the HOP Card. But they won’t go that far if the fares are so high as to put them off.

            I’m sorry to hear you don’t care. I suppose that’s why we need diversity in decision making.

    3. Geoff, the city zone is there exactly for that reason, it is effectively a surcharge on radial commuter trips to the CBD.

      If you get rid of it, you’d have to increase the cost of all other zone trips accordingly… or there would be a huge loss in revenue that would require a correspondingly huge cut in services.

      For example, my three zone trip to the City Centre costs $4.80. If you got rid of the city zone, it would become a two zone trip that still needs to cost $4.80.

      Then the two zone trip from, say, Middlemore to Sylvia Park, that costs $4.80 too.

      So yeah, if you want to hugely increase the cost of short distance local bus trips, great plan!

    4. I’ll think you will find Geoff that Mt Albert to Mission Bay is only 1 zone, not 3 and is actually very cheap.
      I travel from New Lynn to Mt Wellington everyday and it’s only 1 zone.
      It’s where you tag on and off that counts and taking the train through Mt Eden and Grafton makes no difference.

      1. …but also where you tag on and off to transfer, arguably flaw in the system. So actually it is either a two zone or one zone depending on how you do it.

        If a train from Mt Albert to Britomart, then swap to the bus to mission bay, you tag through two zones in total. You would tag on in the ithsmus zone, tag off then on again in the city zone, then tag off the final time back in the isthmus zone.

        If you did something different, say train from Mt Albert to Britomart, change trains to the eastern line (which doesn’t require tagging off or on to transfer) then tagged off at Glen Innes to tag on to the bus to Mission Bay… you’d only every tag on and off within the isthmus zone, so it would be a one zone trip.

        1. Interesting – I was thinking of the 781 that goes from Newmarket to Mission bay which would avoid Britomart and get you to Mission Bay using only one zone.
          But if going through Britomart is quicker via a bus along Tamaki Drive it does seem unfair this costs more.

          1. The fare depends on the number of different zones you tag on or off in, not necessarily the number of zones you pass through.

            The discrepancy is that you must tag on and off for any transfer including a bus, but you are not supposed to tag for a transfer from train to train.

            So in summary, changing trains at Britomart doesn’t count the city zone, but changing to a bus at Britomart does!

  3. “Auckland is the most expensive for travel of about 15-25km, From the city this is about Papatoetoe to Takanini”

    Or to Hobsonville Westgate, Whenuapai, not quite Kumeu etc. Now take a look at the transport options there and the number of houses going in around that part of Auckland. Those houses are being built today, regardless of what improvements the North West district may or may not get in the future.

    As per Waspman’s comment; you have to have a car to get around the area there, so you might as well make the most of your investment and drive it to work. It’s not like PT is any quicker, so where’s the incentive?

    1. “Auckland is the most expensive for travel of about 15-25km, From the city this is about Papatoetoe to Takanini”

      Yes and this is exactly where we have geographic choke point through Otahuhu & we don’t want to encourage more driving.

  4. ‘there’s not a lot of point comparing a compact European cities’
    Actually Hamilton compared to similar sized Dutch and German cities is same density and most use buses on there city wide PT network. The key weakness with Hamilton’s PT network is it does not use rail to provide a congestion free network between cities, making it a bit of a PT island.
    http://hamiltonurbanblog.co.nz/?s=medium
    Benchmarking example
    http://hamiltonurbanblog.co.nz/2019/01/post-card-from-osnabruck/

  5. What a wonderful set of data you’ve collected, Matt. Thanks so much for taking the time.

    There’s good data on how putting fares up reduces patronage, and vice versa, I assume. AT could state clearly how many fewer trips they were expecting when they last put the fares up.

    So it seems to me that if Auckland could radically reduce fares to achieve mode shift and to reduce carbon emissions, there are plenty of cities that could follow suit. That’s the beauty of data collection. The opportunity to reduce carbon emissions worldwide by taking the lead seems huge.

    1. Note that patronage is not equivalent to mode shift or emissions reduction.

      Just like highways induce demand for road travel, lower fares induce demand for PT.

      Most of which is not associated with reduced car travel. Basically, transport is not a zero-sum / fixed cake kind of game.

      And depending on which fares you reduce, you may actually increase carbon emissions by discouraging walking and cycling.

      1. So can you give a real life example where a city of Auckland’s type, armed with this information, and making the ‘right’ sort of fares reductions, didn’t effect mode shift in the positive direction, and reduce carbon emissions?

      2. AT at least want to freeze fares. Meanwhile LTNZ can’t budge because of the bloody PTOM and the Transport Minister, hopelessly unaware, is missing in action, again!

        1. To be fair, he’s got a lot of other things on the go at the moment. If these agencies are still operating under legislation enacted by the previous government and still in force, they won’t have a lot of choice.

          1. I think amendments to the PTOM are easy wins for Twyford, who nearly 18 months in is increasingly looking like a guy out of his depth and delivering very little. For example;

            1; Allow councils to determine the level of subsidy (the Soviet centralised style arbitrary 50% model set by Joyce based on who knows what research and to probably discourage PT use has to go) and for AT with income from the fuel tax, that should be easy.

            2; Add a section that states tenders must preserve current drivers employment conditions or better them, to stop drivers wages and conditions being a bargaining chip every time a tender comes about.

            The risk is AT have to up fares, which will discourage patronage, surely flying in the face of all objectives and politically be very bad for the fuel tax and Twyford which despite taking 11 cents per litre off motorists, will have delivered exactly nothing but business as usual!

          2. I can’t see central government rushing to offer Councils a blank cheque for PT subsidies – given that the subsidies come through NZTA you can be sure that they won’t!

        2. Waspman, your argument may be taken more seriously if you didn’t refer to LTNZ; they went out of existence in 2008. NZTA took over their functions. In fact, that’s when NZTA was established; it was the LTNZ / Transit NZ merger.

    1. I’m not sure about their total PT ridership, but Calgary’s light rail system is 2/3rds the length of Aucklands rail system (with almost the same number of stations, so spaced more closely)… yet carries four times as many people each year.

      I don’t know much about Calgary but I’m pretty sure its not a super dense old style city like you get in Europe or Asia, so a good nod toward what Auckland can achieve?

    2. It says in the past that they have about 102m trips (but I think that’s journeys rather than total boardings) and so with 1.3m people average just under 80 per capita.
      I understand some of the drivers for the high usage include very expensive parking in the central city.

      1. Nick and Matt
        Something from the net
        “Calgary’s popular transit system proves public transportation can work even in a sprawling boom town. But a downtown where auto use is discouraged is a must.

        Calgary is a boomtown — the center of Canada’s resource economy, whose explosion in recent years has led to big gains in Calgary’s population and commercial activity. It’s the sort of place that might seem completely hostile to public transit; 87 percent of locals live in suburban environments where single-family homes and strip malls predominate; surrounding land is mostly flat and easily developable farmland; the city is almost 10 times bigger than it was in 1950, meaning it was mostly built in a post-automobile age; and big highways with massive interchanges are found throughout the region. Even the transit system it has serves many places that are hostile to pedestrians and hardly aesthetically pleasing.

        It’s an environment that looks a lot more like Dallas or Phoenix than Copenhagen.”
        https://www.thetransportpolitic.com/2014/12/10/calgarys-soaring-transit-use-suggests-high-ridership-is-possible-even-in-sprawling-cities/

        Matt, I had 160 million trips from 2014, but I thought that you may have had more recent figures.

        I suspect that this is much more than a nod to what Auckland can achieve.

        Didn’t ATAP 2018 say 170 million trips in Auckland by 2028?

        Auckland ridership is constrained by price.

        https://www.change.org/p/auckland-transport-save-takapuna-s-buslane-ea775f08-ad54-4d4f-8d29-0e7c3bacbf74?recruiter=546144569&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=copylink&utm_campaign=share_petition

  6. Would you want me to draft a Christchurch / Canterbury section for this article (same population as Wellington, after all)? So that you can add it to the above?

    1. Christchurch would certainly be an interesting comparison — basically flat fares other than a small number of routes to satellite towns (Rolleston/Lincoln/Kaiapoi/Rangiora). Plus the 2 hour transfers; pay for 2 rides a day and 10 rides a week max. The older technology with no tag-offs does put pressure on users, however, who want to transfer to the outer zone and have to tell the driver of their *first* bus that they are going to the outer zone.

      1. Yes, indeed. I’m a frequent critic of ECan but the zone structure and transfer system may just be something where they are doing much better than other cities.

          1. It’s Matt L who needs to say “yes, please”. There is no rail in Christchurch (and if you are thinking of the CBD tram, that’s a tourist toy only).

      2. Do bear in mind that all of Christchurch proper is only about the size of the Isthmus Zone + City Zone on the map above.

        So at the same scale, Auckland does have a comparable flat fare system… its kinda that it just has five or six christchurch sized flat fare systems next to each other.

        1. True — but it’s important that most Chch bus users barely interact with the zones. There must have used to have been a much more intricate system, because all over town there are bus stops which say “section” — presumably those were the old boundaries.

          Dunedin also simplified its zone structure, — 6 or 7 zones on the main network (excluding the Palmerston service) was reduced down to 3 zones (plus extra on the Palmerston route).

          Is there any news of the new ticketing system ORC and other councils have? Past news articles indicate it’s well overdue by now, but there hasn’t been any recent news.

    2. Actually I’ve just had a nosey at Chch’s structure and scale to try to get some comparison. Until fairly recently it was a simple two-zone system, with an inner ring of about 10-12km and satellite towns out to about 28km (Burnham, Rangiora, Waikuku). The ferry from Lyttelton across to Diamond Harbour is another fare tier again.

      However, from next week there will be new services being trialled out to Darfield and Leeston (both over 40km away). So now there is a 4-zone fare system in place to account for that. Looking at your plot points Matt, here are the equivalent Chch ones (using MetroCard discount):
      – 2-10km: $2.65
      – 15-25km: $3.85
      – 30km: $4.70
      – 35km: $5.60

      So what I’m seeing is that typically Chch is cheaper than most other cities, except for the very short trips (most of us bike those anyway… 🙂 ). As mentioned above, there’s also really nice features like daily/weekly maximum fares and 2-hr transfer windows. Should also be noted that a trip to Chch airport from anywhere in the city is only $2.65 with MetroCard – the same distance to Wgtn airport will set you back $12 on the Airport Flyer (or a little over $3 if you’re prepared to walk 500m to the terminal…)

      1. So considering PT can only be subsidised 50% by law, this implies it is much cheaper to run services in ChCh than Auck/Wlgn. Maybe because bus users aren’t subsidising train users? Or maybe because there is less traffic so buses move faster?

        1. ChCh doesn’t get anywhere close to the 50% farebox target, its not a ‘law’ so much as a funding target.

          Also ChCh routes and journeys are much shorter, so easier to provide. Christchurch is much smaller spatially than Auckland, while Wellington is very long and stretched out. For example from the ‘inner’ suburb of Porrirua to central Wellington is about the same as the full breadth of Christchurch Hornby to New Brighton. A journey from Upper Hutt or Paraparaumu to downtown Welly is about five times the length of one from Belfast to downtown ChCh.

          1. Downtown Upper Hutt to Wgtn bus station is only about three times the trip distance from Belfast to Chch bus interchange (and only marginally longer than Rangiora to Chch), but I get your point.

            Nevertheless, from the figures to hand, the current Chch fares per distance are still relatively cheaper than their Akld counterparts (and others), which begs the question of whether Akld’s should be cheaper or Chch should actually pay a bit more (which could also help the arbitrary farebox recovery equation).

            There are various grumbles about Chch’s PT system, especially since they rerouted some services away from the central city, but (for those who at least are aware of the MetroCard system) “expensive” is not a common gripe.

  7. Hey Matt, great post.

    One question: In your final analysis you say Brisbane doesn’t have a pass option. That’s not strictly true, IMO, due to the 8 + 50% weekly discount, which you mention above and is automatically applied. A normal commuter (who might otw buy a monthly pass) would likely qualify for this cap. Did you factor that into your analysis?

    For example, I live in Brisbane and commute by ~30 mins to city. Between offpeak discounts, 60-min transfer window, and weekly caps I end up paying ~$25 per week.

      1. Ok so analysis is good just text is a bit misleading, e.g. “the two that don’t have pass options, Brisbane and Perth, are the most expensive for longer distance travel”.

        What you’re really saying (i think) is Brisbane/Perth’s equivalent of the monthly pass (which is auto applied weekly) is less generous than the other cities.

        I’m personally OK with that as commuters are costly to service and value quality over price, so would rather see discounts applied to other journeys (e.g. young people).

        One other thing to keep in mind is the distinction between auto applied and pass. The former is better for those who don’t know exactly how much they’ll travel in a given period, whereas monthly passes requires that you forecast your travel in advance.

        1. “I’m personally OK with that as commuters are costly to service and value quality over price”
          Stu, I would love to see some research to support your proposition, because the mode share statistics in Auckland strongly suggest that despite pretty good peak frequency for PT, mode share for car trips continues to increase.

          1. Which proposition? Commuters being willing to pay more for quality PT?

            There’s lots on research on elasticities available online, try Balcombe et al as a good starting point. Also Ian Wallis has done some NZ specific research reports for NZTA that is freely available.

            Main message is peak/commuter demand is less sensitive with respect to fares.

            And, by the way, i think car mode share has been declining of late? Or do you mean total travel?

  8. I think AT do need some congratulations for making our fares competitive. The fare from our place to city is cheaper now than it was 10 years ago. Yes the zone system doesn’t work for everyone, but I think it was the best option and the zones are fairly well done. And I think AT will look to slowly decrease the longer distance fares which have always been too high in Auckland.
    But unfortunately Matt you are only comparing us to other car loving PT hating countries…

    1. Stu
      The RPTP says mode share for cars has been inecreasing at p20

      “Impacts on the rest of the network
      Although the last three years have seen major growth in boardings at a region-wide network level, the
      impact of increasing public transport patronage on overall demand for vehicle travel has been modest.
      It appears instead of replacing other vehicle travel, public transport use is increasing alongside other
      travel. Per capita vehicle travel and per capita car ownership have also increased over the last three
      years – most likely primarily as a result of the buoyant economic conditions.
      Mode shift effects appear to have been limited at the region-wide level, with the public transport share
      of motorised travel (by distance) increasing from 4 per cent to 5 percent. Public transport boardings
      per person have continued to grow (see Figure 11) but within a context of growing demand for all types
      of travel, this increase does not yet equate to system-level behaviour change.

      Figure 11: Auckland public transport per capita vs total trips (1988-2017)

      However, at the sub-regional level the public transport network has successfully played a key role in
      increasing the capacity and throughput of some of the most critical parts of the network, especially
      during the peak period. This has enabled more Aucklanders to travel at peak times and access
      popular destinations. For example:
      • A combination of PT, walking and cycling has allowed the city centre to keep growing
      without increasing reliance on private vehicles. More than 50% of travel to the City Centre
      in the peak is by PT or active modes.
      21
      • Around a third of Aucklanders making trips over the Auckland Harbour Bridge in the
      morning peak-travel period take the bus. By increasing the capacity over the bridge the
      Northern Busway has delayed the need for an additional harbour crossing and spending
      billions of dollars, freeing up funding for other transport projects.
      • During the peak periods, PT carries over a third of the people on key isthmus arterials such
      as Dominion Rd. (36 percent, am and pm peaks) and Great North Rd. (38 percent am and
      42 percent pm), increasing to around two thirds for major routes into the city centre such
      as Fanshawe Street. (78 percent am and 66 percent pm) and Symonds Street (81 percent
      am and 82 percent pm).”

      I am not a great fan of anecdotal evidence, but surely the huge amount of road widening in Auckland suggests that car travel is increasing?

      Thanks for the reference material.

      Happy to accept that elasticity is less at peak. My argument is that if the greatest mode share change is to occur then pricing at peak needs to form a part of that.

      Should price reduction occur at the expense of service standards – no.

      Can the money be found to make significant price reductions to fares – absolutely it can, but it would require the will of AT to re-prioritise spending; and abandon metrics such as how long it takes someone to drive down Lake Road at any time of the day.

      The Productivity Commission feebate could, and should be reworked to benefit public transport where it would achieve better results.

      I make no pretense that my focus is from the direction of reducing carbon emissions, but that will also result in great PT outcomes.

  9. Glad to finally see recognition that Auckland is not like Copenhagen or Amsterdam (with special emphasis on specious cycling comparisons)

    “there’s not a lot of point comparing a compact European cities “

    1. Looking forward to finding out how many fewer trips there will be as a result of this fare increase. 600,000 was their estimate last time. Undermines everything they’re trying to do.

      Preventing climate change is way cheaper than fixing it later.

      1. Not quite that easy to determine patronage effects.

        If AT left fares where they are now, and foresook additional revenue (albeit more or less in line with inflation), then we’d have less PT service.

        Basically, provided additional revenue is invested wisely, then it may generate more patronage than it loses.

    2. So a single one zone bus+ferry fare is now up to $6.85, compared to $1.95 for a bus+train trip of the same distance. Useless from AT and Auckland Council.

      1. There are no one zone bus+ferry trips possible, they would all be a minimum of two zones.

        (well unless you catch the ferry from Birkenhead to Northcote point…)

        1. It can be if you consider the downtown ferry terminal to be on the CBD zone boundary, which I think it is. And then I guess it would make bus-ferry-bus trips two-zone.

          1. I don’t see any logic to that, the ferry terminal is in the City Centre zone, like the train station and the bus terminals.

            In my view the fairest/equitable way to have ferries is for the zones to extend to the midpoint/bands in the harbour, which effectively means they cover the same number of zones as the most direct equivalent by land.

            So the inner harbour two zones (lower north shore to city centre), Westpark, Hobsonville and Half Moon Bay would be three, Pine Harbour and Gulf Harbour four, and Waiheke five.

          2. Two stops, the origin and destination. Same as Orakei to Britomart on the train, or Akoranga to Wynard on the bus.

    3. I guess we’ll have weeks of relentless media campaigning trying to turn this around due to the inordinate effect it’ll have on poorer people. :/

      1. Heidi
        It is interesting that there is no automatic review process for parking. It only increases once it hits designated capacity and then only if AT wants to increase it.

        Are you suggesting that these PT fare increases are an attack on the young and the vulnerable because they can?

        1. I haven’t noticed any young person’s advocate given the sort of prime media time and thus sway over the average pundit’s morning tea conversation in the same way that the car and road industry’s advocates are given. AT has probably noticed that too.

          Information and education, of course, could be powerful things in swaying that average punter’s morning tea conversation. The public could really get behind parking cost changes if the effect on urban form, liveability, safety, and the equity benefits from improved infrastructure were laid out bare. Yet AT doesn’t seem to have noticed this much.

    4. If its less than inflation then isn’t it actually a fare decrease?
      EDIT: I misread the article – it is actually bang on the inflation rate at 1.9%

  10. “… a one-hour time limit which would help make it easier to use PT for errands and short meetings.”

    As a commuter who regularly hits the supermarket to do top up shops before dinner, Auckland’s 30 minute change limit regularly is to short and catches me out. An allowed gap of an hour would cut down all those times I decide its better to come home jump in the car and head back to the shop.

  11. I wonder if some form of multi traveller pass would be a good idea. PT becomes a very expensive option compared to driving when multiple related people are making the same trip. Maybe there could be some way of linking a families HOP cards and if they make the same trip at the same time they get a big discount.

    1. In Brisbane children with go card get to travel free on weekends for exactly this reason: to reduce costs of pt for families.

  12. We already noticed Auckland lag behind other cities in the way we manage out pricing.

    You can see other cities discount their off peak travelling some how.

    Auckland and welllington just seems to hate the idea of off-peak discount, which doesn’t make sense.

    Also our higher than average fare, especially around 10-15km is something thats concerning.

    1. wellington does have offpeak discounts. if you want to access them on the train youll need to buy an offpeak tentrip, bus is automatic with snapper.

    2. “Kelvin” Many years ago the ARA when they run the Buses they had off peak fares between 9am and 3pm and after 7pm in the evenings and also on the weekends and for a number of years they also had transfer tickets with no expiry time for that day , and you could use as a return type of ticket but they disappeared which was a shame . The worst part about ofpeak and normal was you had to carry 2 types of concession tickets for each of the different stages you were going to travel . And the inner city fares boundary use to be the corner of khyber pass and Symonds st and corner of Krd and Ponsonby rd .

  13. I hear a lot of people say that, but I think that AT could quickly and easily subsidise the fares and they could very easily integrate fares like they have for everyone else.

    In principle this is quite a simple negotiation with the operator and NZTA – start with the current $4.90 ferry cost, deduct the 50% subsidy that NZTA offers for public transport users, then factor in a ratepayer contribution and you can easily achieve the desired fare equality, which is also close to the much loved 50% farebox recovery target. We can do it if we want.

    1. Actually no. There is currently a law that literally prevents AT from subsidising those specific ferry routes, or contracting subsidised services on the same ferry routes. It was written in as a specific exemption to the new regime.

      They need an act of parliment to change the PTOM laws.

      1. That’s true, however I am only talking about subsidising the fares, not the ferry operators, and this is specifically allowed for by the exemption.

  14. AT’s latest fare increase is disgusting and does nothing to promote a higher uptake of pt usage.

    Phil Goff – the man who campaigned on pt… massive fail. He can go this year. The do nothing mayor. Bring back Len Brown, at least we’ve got the CRL with Len!

    AT – Waste of space uncontrollable organization.

    1. This is nothing to do with Phil Goff although I can see how it’s easy to get confused with the multiplicity of organisations involved.

  15. A timely post concerning PT fares and was it in preparation for the AT email just received at lunchtime that details fare increases right across the board in Auckland.
    Good news is that the PT train fare to Kumeu won’t be changing, ooops forgot there isn’t any PT trains to Kumeu. No matter, I’m sure everyone out NW Auckland is getting prepared for the excitement of having light rail here in 10 or 15 or more years – or was that just to Westgate, so perhaps 20 or 30 years to reach Kumeu.

    1. “Bogle” they should have run the trains to Kumeu last Saturday for that custom motor show bu being a bunch of idiots they didn’t

  16. It seems like we’d be better off as consumers with a radiating system as practised by almost all of these other cities (at least all the ones with maps provided here), including the largely backwards Wellington system.

    Very disappointing to learn about the fare hike and not just because I personally suffer from one of the largest hikes; it definitely does seem to be symptomatic of the current government to have meaningfully adjusted anything when getting rid of the fare recovery percentage should be so easy. On the other hand, it’s really not that surprising when you pay attention to how sprawl enamoured Labour and Tywford are (or further very easy to find examples of backwards thinking from before the election, through the election and since), I’d go as far to say it’s predictable but on the other hand I have said at least twice in these comments that Twyford’s got to go.

  17. Apart from Auckland’s (now new) fare prices, zone structure etc, they really should extend the transfer time to 1 hr or at least 45 mins if they want to be stingy. I’ve often just missed (or luckily just made) a transfer within 1 min due to a cancelled or a slightly early service followed by a slightly or very late service in the weekend or night time frequencies. This is not fair on the user and adds to commuter stress particularly if travelling as a family with several members say on the weekend where their special 99c fare will not apply suddenly.

    1. Agree. Also, I think the benefits of that 99 c fare being extended to just ’99 cents for all day travel’ would be good. It wouldn’t cost much, might be noticed by more people thinking of trying the bus out.

  18. There are some good justifications for a flat fare system within a commuter catchment:

    1) The poorer in society who cannot afford a car should by right be provided with a means to travel as there are significant socioeconomic benefits (job access, hospital access, meeting with friends)

    2) The poorer in society also tend to have housing at the edges of cities as housing (land) prices are cheaper. As a generality they are the ones forced to pay the higher fares

    3) Car commuters travelling long distances travel through many intersections (or highway sections with on ramps) and thus contribute to congestion in many locations. (i.e. there can be significant benefits in shifting longer distance commuter trips onto PT)

    1. However, all else being equal, a flat fare will have to be priced at about the average fare of a stepped fare structure. In other words, a flat fare must be significantly more expensive than the single zone fare.

      I did some quick calculations and arrived at the figure of about $3.50 for an standard adult flat fare in Auckland (based on the same number of trips and the same fare revenue, not accounting for any demand shifting effects).

      The issue comes in that many things that the poorer in society need (or that anyone needs for that matter), like access to medical care, visiting friends, and may jobs… are quite local. Middlemore hospital is a one zone fare from almost all of south and east Auckland for example.

      Going to a flat fare could more or less double the cost of making those short local trips.

      1. I note that Melbourne has effectively a flat fare for most of the city, and the minimum fee to make any trip is $4.40 (although it does amount to unlimited travel for two hours, so you can make a quick return trip under the one fare).

  19. Wellington does have off-peak train fares and free transfers between trains and buses. However for the former, you need to buy a ten-trip ticket, and for the latter, you need a monthly pass.

  20. I just found out that Fullers have added $5 to their return tickets to Waiheke over summer; just because they can!
    They really are a horrible price gouging outfit.

    1. “harrymc ” Also if you have a look at the Explore ferries it looks as if Fullers have bought them out also as the other day when I came across from the Island and arrive into the ferry basin there were Fullers/360 on the side of the Explore D6 boat .
      If that has happened it’s more of the opposition they have bought out , as 360 also was up against them also on the Waiheke run , so now there is no competitors to the Island to try and keep prices down

  21. Some feedback is on the price of the Hop card; it’s a disincentive to get people onto public transport for the first time. I’d argue that the initial Hop card should be free (maybe under certain conditions, e.g. you showing an ID card and your name and DoB being registered). I blogged about that topic last year with regards to Christchurch’s Metrocard, which used to be free.

    https://talkingtransport.com/2018/09/23/why-do-we-charge-for-metrocards/

    1. We decided not to buy metrocards when we visited because we weren’t sure if we’d use them enough to justify the cost. In the end that shaped what we did. If we’d been able to give them back and have the deposit refunded we would have definitely bought them.

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