Here’s a quick comparison of adult PT fares and discounts in Australian capital cities.
|Peak fare range|
|Off-peak fare||Fare cap weekdays||Fare cap weekends||Bulk discount|
|Adelaide||$3.95||$2.20||$11.00 daily fare (not an automatic cap)||$11.00||14 days $63.20|
28 days $105.00
|Brisbane||$3.37 – $10.17||20% discount||No cap||No cap||8 journeys in one week, then further journeys are half price|
|Canberra||$3.22||$2.55||$9.60||$5.87||5% discount if loading card using BPay or auto load.|
Calendar month cap 40 trips
|Darwin||$2.00||Same as peak||No cap||No cap||7 days $20|
|Melbourne||$3.10 – $4.60||Metro trains free before 7:15am|
A single 2 hour fare applies from 6pm to 3am
Otherwise same as peak
|$6.20 – $9.20||$6.20 – $6.70||7 days $31 – $46|
28 days $104.16 – 154.56
(Any number 28-365 days available)
|Perth||$1.98 – $4.41||Same as peak||$9.80||$9.80||11% discount if using auto load|
|Sydney||$3.20 – $8.99||30% discount||$16.30||$8.15||Weekly cap $50|
- This is looking only at adult fares using a smartcard. Cash fares/paper tickets, where offered, are more expensive.
-  At least, the web site doesn’t mention a fare cap for Tap And Ride card users. You can buy a $7 cash daily ticket.
-  Smartrider is a 10% discount from a cash fare. Auto load Smartrider is a further 10%. This means Smartrider manual load vs Auto load is an 11% discount.
The base fare varies by the distance or number of zones. Adelaide, Canberra and Darwin have a single zone. Melbourne has two zones. Perth has more but fares are capped at two zones. Sydney and Brisbane have more zones.
Most cities offer an off-peak discount, but some don’t, and in Melbourne the discounts are somewhat extreme, and inherited from earlier ticket systems.
Melbourne’s daily fare cap is smart, in that it takes into account the zone/s you’ve used. The others are such that you may not reach the cap if taking a lot of short trips, but you probably will if taking two long trips.
Ditto Sydney’s weekly cap, which if you’re an everyday long distance commuter, you’ll hit pretty quickly. Adelaide, Darwin and Melbourne make you pre-load a weekly fare to get the discount. Canberra and Perth instead give you a discount for setting your smartcard to auto load.
(Thanks Alex, who pointed out that Adelaide’s daily fare is not a cap; you need to buy it in advance)
Which fare system is perfect? None of them really, they all have their pros and cons.
Finding the right mix to encourage people to use the system, while still raising good levels of revenue to help fund services, is a balancing act. I’d love to see some changes for Melbourne (and even moreso for V/Line fares, which have a number of anomalies), but given much of our fare system dates back to the 1980s, I’m not holding my breath.