Should Off-Peak Trains Charge Full Fare Prices?

Not too many people work in the week between Christmas and New Year, so many cities drop their public transport service frequency. In a particularly extreme example, Sydney's CityRail is running on a Saturday timetable all week, but it isn't dropping its fares to match. Is that reasonable?

Picture by Zackary1360

Blogger Evan Smith argues the no case, pointing out that it hardly seems fare to charge a premium for a peak-hour service that doesn't offer peak-hour performance. On a normal Saturday, fares are cheaper, so why not stick with that approach?

CityRail's official counter-argument is that to offer discounted fares (which are roughly half the price for a return journey) on weekdays would disadvantage people who have paid for long-term tickets, and that fares don't cover the full cost of the service anyway. It doesn't mention another important aspect of the debate: higher peak-hour fares help spread users across the day, by discouraging people wanting cheaper fares from boarding during the busiest times.

Do you think a discount is in order, or is charging the same fare even with a reduced service reasonable at this time of year? Share your thoughts in the comments.

CityRail: Still charging peak hour prices for a Saturday timetable


    I don't see why they can't, when Translink (South East QLD) discounts for Off Peak transport on Public Holidays, Weekends, and the middle of the day

      LOL Translink. Off Peak != Public Holiday ticketing (Although Translink does use the same pricing for it).

      Translink also only discounts on Gazetted public holidays so the customers can still be fucked over when there is reduced service allocations during the week, (EG: Ekka travel this year).

      (If you want more info, Just look at the Rail Back on Track forums)

    CityRail arguing that "long term" ticket holders are disadvantaged? HAHAHAHA yeah, I'd buy into their argument it if their long term tickets were charged on journey frequency, not by 7/31/90+ day fixed period.

    CityRail is *not* reasonable. Durrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

    "CityRail’s official counter-argument is that to offer discounted fares (which are roughly half the price for a return journey) on weekdays would disadvantage people who have paid for long-term tickets"

    what a crazy argument! the only person disadvantaged here is cityrail who may find it harder to sell long-term tickets.

    where else you do hear "we can't sell you that product as it competes too well against our other products" you have a big problem with your "other products" when you say that. imho

    Well, considering you're still using the service for what you're using it for, what should you pay any less... It's not like you catch each and every train available, and therefore since you can't catch them all, you should pay less...

    If you do, you are a freak.

      sounds right to me.
      the lack of discounted fair is to keep the incentive to use the train at less popular times if u can.

    What pisses me off is that they are hitting us with a fare increase on Jan 2nd.. then they are doing a FULL MONTH track work on my line during the same month.. all of january.. there is no compensation for this.. just the same old crapola...

    ..oh and why are they doing track work for a month? is it to improve services? is it to maintain the tracks? Of course not! It is to allow a privately owned company to lay a new freight line through the suburbian network.

    I don't mind fare increases that are inline with inflation and to be honest a $2 increase for my 1hr 15min train ride is acceptable.. it's the fact that for a month after the increase, I don't actually get to ride trains directly from the station I bought my ticket at and pay for the journey to and from...

      What track line is it? Sounds like the South Line, no?

        Do you know why they're putting in a new freight line? To free up capacity on the suburban lines, which are currently choked to capacity. That gives Cityrail a LOT of operational flexibility. The flow-on effects of a delayed freight train on the suburban lines can mean delays of up to 15 minutes per service for the following two or more hours.

      Notwithstanding the fact they will actually be ripping up and replacing parts of the existing track, the Australian Rail Track Corporation (which is building the freight line) is actually a federal government entity, not private.

    People need to stop complaining. If anything, all public transport fares need to increase to better cover costs and therefore fund new and improved services. FYI - most government's (both nationally and internationally) heavily discount public transport fares - around 60%+ - and Aus is really heavy with the discounting. And all we complain about is a lack of quality services and yet want fares to go down?! Can't have your cake and eat it too!

      I don't think many would be complaining "as much" (heck you can't please everyone) if the services in this country were even close to those in other countries with many factors greater population size and density with arguably lower GDPs..

      Go back to your air-conditioned Cityrail office now.. *pats head*

        What would you do, then? More services? More services = more rollingstock, more drivers, more guards, more maintenance, more storage facilities, higher insurance premiums for the operators, bigger fuel / electricity bills, more security, etc etc etc...

        So, what NoName said has merit - you can't increase service frequency and cut costs at the same time.

    You could try AdelaideMetro's standard fare system: Off-Peak is only available between 9am and 3pm weekdays. The rest of the time, full fare apply.

    They should do what QLD's Sunshine Coast is doing (but include trains). Free public transport on Buses between Dec 26th and 8th Jan.

    If you don't have to swipe a ticket, then the argument of disadvantaging people with prepaid tickets won't occur. And, they won't lose money on Fair Evasion either!

    I think the price is reasonable. I don't mind the trackwork, means my trip is slightly quicker as it doesn't stop at all the stations inbetween. As for the discount mostly I just love that if I really wanted to and had the time on my hands I could travel from nowra to scone for $7.8. It would cost you easily 10 times that if you drove (yes I grant driving would take half the time but that's not the point)

    Given that none of the suburban railway operators in Australia are profitable on their own (read: supported by massive government subsidies), dropping the prices even more for "off-peak" services is a ridiculous suggestion.

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