Which is cheapest?

If you buy daily tickets (currently available as Metcard only), the per weekday cost is Zone 1 $6.80, Zone 2 $4.80, Zone 1+2 $10.60.

Obviously there’s no reason to do this on a regular basis, since you can save a substantial amount of money by using the bulk fare options.

But which one?

That is, if you usually travel by PT every weekday, but not usually on weekends, and occasionally take the day off (as well as public holidays) what’s the cheapest way to do it? 10×2 hour (or Myki Money), or Monthly/Yearly (or Myki Pass)?

Metcards

Pay 5 days at a time

Using a 10×2 hour Metcard (or Myki Money), the per weekday day cost is: Z1 $5.88, Z2 $4.04, Z1+2 $9.92.

Obviously a key advantage here is that unlike the other bulk options, they don’t have to be consecutive days, so if you travel only semi-regularly, these tickets are a good option.

(The 5xDaily fares are the identical cost, but there’s no reason to ever buy these tickets, because the 10×2 hour tickets provide the same amount of travel, but are more flexible if you ever need only one 2-hour period of travel.)

Pay by the week

The cost is also the same as above if you get a Weekly Metcard or 7-day Myki pass, and only use it for the weekdays (eg 5 days). But you get any weekend days you might travel as a bonus, so if you regularly catch weekend PT, it’s cheaper to be on a weekly. (Note: Myki will not upgrade you to a weekly fare if that’s what’s cheaper.)

However if you absolutely never use PT on a weekend, and there is a public holiday in the week, this option turns out more expensive — indeed it’s more expensive than buying individual tickets — eg four days on a Weekly would cost you $7.35 per day for zone 1.

Pay by the month(ish)

March had 22 weekdays (23 less Labour Day). Due to Easter and ANZAC Day, April only has 19. Let’s assume the average month has 21.

On a Monthly Metcard, the per weekday cost is (approxiamately) Z1 $5.22, Z2 $3.50, Z1+2 $8.05.

And it’s still cheaper than the 10×2 cost, even for April. You’d have to get down to 18 working days (with no weekend travel whatsoever) for it to be more expensive on the Monthly. (Z1+2 is discounted more; you’d have to get down to 17 working days). Plus you don’t have to buy a new ticket every week(ish).


Myki’s five week option

With Myki the per day rate is published on their web site, because you can buy any number of days from 28 to 365 (anything above 325 is free). If you assume no weekend travel, then the per day cost to the user obviously goes up, since you’re paying for weekends but not using them.

But here’s something that someone cleverer than me noticed: if you buy 33 days, and start it on a Monday, thus ending on a Friday 5 weeks later, you can avoid paying for one weekend you don’t need. (Even if you do need to travel on that weekend, with Myki Money it’s a maximum of $3 per weekend day, so that travel is cheaper than it would have been on the pass).

If it’s in a 5-week period with one day off in that time, the cost per weekday comes out at Z1 $4.95, Z2 $3.30, Z1+2 $7.65, and you get travel in your zone(s) on four weekends included.

And because the per-day cost is slightly lower than the Monthly Metcard price, it’s cheaper than the Myki Money rate unless you travel only 18 days or less in that 5-week period (17 for Z1+2).

The catch is that if you use a Myki card that has an unused Pass on it, the system will start using it, so you need to be careful to buy and use the Pass when you want to, not start it too early by accident, unlike Metcard, where you can buy your ticket in advance and choose not to use it until you’re ready.

Pay by the year

If you want to pay for your travel a year in advance, there’s no need to pay the retail prices. If you work for a large organisation, ask them if they offer Commuter Club; if you don’t, get it through PTUA Commuter Club. You’ll save 9-10% that way.

Let’s assume you don’t work the whole year. Let’s say you take 4 weeks off, as well as public holidays (this year there are 10 on weekdays), plus say 5 extra days of leave (eg sick leave or additional leave) making about 225 days per year.

The cost per weekday then comes out at Z1 $4.84, Z2 $3.28, Z1+2 $7.40, with of course any travel on weekends or during your leave period included as well. Obviously the more you travel, the less per day it costs.

(The equivalent pass in Myki is only available at the full retail price at moment, so there’s no reason to use it, as you’d be wasting money. The exception is if you’re eligible for a concession fare, as Metcard Yearly is not available at the concession rate.)

Confused?

Don’t be. The usual rule for bulk buying applies: the more you pay in advance, the more money you’ll save over the long run. Whether you can afford it and whether that’s the best use of your money is another question.

Here’s a graph which may make it a tad clearer. To be clear, these figures make the assumptions given above.

Fare options: cost per day

I suspect for most people, the monthly(ish) ticket is the sweet spot, giving a 12-18% discount from the 10×2/Myki Money price, though for those who regularly use PT on weekends and when they’re on holiday, the discounted Yearly option may be quite compelling.

And remember, for monthly and longer options, you can apply for compensation when the operators miss their performance targets. Those who are eligible for train compensation for March, for instance, get two extra days of travel.

How could things be better?

With the cost of casual weekend travel dropping to $3, it would make sense for the government to bring down the price of Weekly/Monthly/Yearly tickets to make up for that. The more compelling they can make Monthlies and Yearlies in particular, the better, as promoting that kind of bulk pre-payment reduces the number of transactions that need to be made (reducing costs) and encourages loyal customers onto PT.

Price references: Metcard fares. Myki fares. PTUA Commuter Club Yearly.

Note: Myki is still only valid on trains, so if your regular travel involves trams or buses, ignore those options. Even if you only catch trains, be very wary of Myki at present — it’s still got problems.

(Have I messed up any of my calculations? Leave a comment if you spot any errors.)

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25 thoughts on “Which is cheapest?

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Blog: What's cheapest for regular PT users? 10x2, Weekly, Monthly or Yearly? -- Topsy.com

  2. I’ve just bought another 33 day pass and used myki money on the weekend. My only suggestion for those wishing to do the same thing is to get hold of another myki (I got two during the free offer, and there’s bound to be another free offer when trams and bus come online I’d imagine). That way I can buy my pass on my “main” myki, and use my spare one for the myki money trips at the weekend at the end of my previous pass, so I don’t have to line up at the myki machine on a monday morning (and yes, queues are starting to develop at myki machines… there was one at Hawthorn this morning!)

  3. wow….i just did some numbers of my own, being a concession and having fridays off from uni, and a monthly is cheaper by a few dollars than the 10x2hs i have been buying, and i even get fridays and weekends free – plus the ability to just walk through the gates

  4. So if myki doesn’t automatically charge you the weekly or monthly fair when it becomes cost-effective, what the hell is it supposed actually useful for? Wasn’t automatically calculating and charging the most cost-effective fair one of the key benefits they’ve been spruiking? I honestly fail to see how myki in it’s current form actually helps anyone. It doesn’t help you if you’re an erratic traveller and don’t know in advance if you’ll be travelling enough this week to need a weekly; it doesn’t alleviate the queue for weekly tickets on Monday morning; it doesn’t simplify the fare structure; it doesn’t work across multiple modes of transport. The current mess with myki in the mix just makes Melbourne public transport more confusing.

  5. Nathan, yep, true, though potentially confusing as Myki cards all look pretty much identical.

    Mattydee, yeah that’s why I did these calculations. Monthly tickets are better value than most people probably think.

    Andrew, I deliberately stuck to Melbourne, but in Geelong you can choose between Myki Pass or Myki Money, though with no vending machines active in regional cities, it’s not clear to me how you can load a Myki Pass onto a card. I’m assuming bus drivers can’t do it; perhaps retailers? I guess the web site is also a possibility, but given the huge problems with it, probably not recommended!

  6. I used to buy monthlies when I lived in Surrey Hills – it was pretty easy, just a Zone 1 Monthly. When I moved out a bit further, I found that I would use a Zone 1+2 up to 3 or 4 days a week and Zone 1 on the other weekdays. Of course, this is when I don’t just ride my bike to work.
    So now I’ve always got at least 2 different 5-dailys in my wallet, and constantly have to check to make sure I’m using the right one.
    Myki would be easier of course, but that assumes it works and I wouldn’t be overcharged. I simply don’t have that level of confidence.

  7. Punistation, yes. Go here if you want the discount ($1090 discounted price for zone 1, compared to $1173 retail). Remember this has to be ordered a few weeks in advance as Metlink only process the Commuter Club orders once a month.

  8. Wow I which I went to average Australian math class where 10×2=5×24. There is no way possible you can get the same amount of travel from 10x2hour as you can from a 5xdaily.

  9. I’ll stick with my monthly Metcard thanks. I don’t go out to Zone 2 that often. Sucks not getting free zone 2 travel on weekends if you have a monthly/yyearly card now.

    Occasionally I also have to pay the fun game of – get off the tram immediately and get on the one behind it due to nongs and don’t want to have to scan on/off all the time.

  10. Nice analysis, but I disagree with dropping the price of periodicals to reflect cheaper w/end travel. Weekends were essentially free already, with most people doing exactly as you have done here and assumed “workdays only” for calculating which ticket suited them best and taking the w/end travel as an added bonus, as weekends are generally less predictable regarding suitability of PT for trips.

    Periodicals already represent great value to the customer and there’s no reason to further erode farebox recovery, with the ‘average commuter’ travelling to work well able to pay. If you can’t pay full fare, concessions are available (and appear well-utilised).

    If you’re wanting PT to compete with the car on cost, there’s plenty of subsidies to attack on cars first, before trying to lower the cost of PT tickets further (which tend to only get CPI increases anyhow, if that – price rises seem to be held down when politically suitable). I’d be interested on an analysis of “willingness to pay” for Melbourne PT, ie increased ticket prices for (guaranteed) increased service levels, etc. Be interesting to see if those in favour of extra staff, connies, a train to the line terminus every 5 mins would actually PAY to have that provided…? I suspect we have a workable compromise at present.

  11. Phillip, that isn’t actually right. From Central Station to the Convention Centre ( which is less than 10 minutes walk ), the tram is $3.40 Any further than that, to the Casino, say, is $4.40

    Which is pretty expensive really. More than the toll roads. $4.40 for less than 2km. You can travel about 20 km on a Sydney train for that.

    The tram only comes about every 15 minutes and on many ocaisions I have beaten the tram by walking to the Exhibition centre or Convention Centre. To the casino, the tram would usually win…. just. And for $4.40 each way on top of a train fare, not worth it.

    http://www.metrotransport.com.au/index.php/ticket-types-2

  12. “there‚Äôs plenty of subsidies to attack on cars first, ”

    Subsidies on cars ? I don’t think there is much subsidies for people paying their own money to run their car to work. The sleeping giant of car subsidies is the $27 billion dollar a year “fraud cult” of the “company car” system, whereby the personal and private motoring ( which includes travel to work ), of about a third of the working population gets the benefit of tax-deductibility. And you are not going to get any of those people onto public transport.

  13. semi-unrelated question, Daniel…do you know if myki will go into negative balance if used when there is not enough credit$ on the card? (a la oyster…)

  14. Louise, the card will go into negative, but you have to top it back up to a positive balance again before you can take another trip.

  15. I use an earlybird ticket (free train transport if your scheduled arrival is before 7.00am).

    My train is scheduled to arrive in at Cheltenham at 6.59am however what do you suppose will happen if there is a delay on the line and the train arrives in after the cutoff?

    At Cheltenham there is no one to check my ticket so I just walk through and at manned stations you are able to explain the situation and the staff just wave you through, however what will us earlybirds do if we have to ‘touch off’ with a myki card? We will loose the incentive to travel early if we have to pay because the train ran late.

  16. Re 19: “the card will go into negative, but you have to top it back up to a positive balance again before you can take another trip.”

    Funnily enough, I was reminded of this blog when I attempted this the other night. I fully intended to get my card back into the black before boarding my return train back up from Frankston. But, as I should have suspected given an earlier post here, that rather busy station STILL doesn’t have a single Myki machine!

  17. Earlybird, it doesn’t appear to be documented in the Fares+Ticketing Manual, but my understanding is there is a 10 (or it might be 15) minute grace period under Myki, to allow for late trains.

  18. @Tim, I don’t think you have to scan off, when getting off the train and back on to a following train. I don’t think the system would realise the discrepency, unless you’re somewhere strange like Camberwell.

    But have you tried getting off, and back on to the other half of the train? Obviously that doesn’t work on 3-car sets, but they run a lot more 6-car sets now.

  19. The compensatory tickets for deficient performance is a good reason to get monthlies, unless you’re going to be absent from the system (eg annual leave).

    I’ve got six compensatory dailies, with another six on the way. It’s a good idea to keep one in the wallet in case you forget either:
    1) that your monthly has expired, or
    2) your concession card [compensatory tickets are always full fare].

    Nick.

  20. @Earlybird, I guess you have to make a claim. Unfortunately the Myki F&TM is not clear, but I guess you can claim for anything where
    1) you expected to incur $X in costs
    2) a technological or other malfunction has occurred, and you incurred $X+Y in costs.
    Hopefully the monkeys would be aware of the situation if you had clocked off at 10:30am (yes there have been a couple of 4+ hour delays).

    @Daniel, they have specifically excluded cancelled trains when it comes to EarlyBird rules, but what is the ruling if a train is cancelled after you’ve boarded the service, or if a connecting train is cancelled (say for a trip BOX to SUN)?

    @Everyone, One trick with EarlyBird is, if the train you need is cancelled, you can board the following train, get off it before 7am (hopefully you’re in your destination zone or city saver zone by then) and you scan off, then scan back on. That way you’ll only pay the city saver or single zone. Applies to both Metcards and Myki.

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