Apart from tertiary students, Health Care Card holders are also excluded from the list, as well as some other types of concessions. Children under 16 are excluded, perhaps because Google Pay needs to be linked to a valid credit or debit card.
Why is this? I don’t know, but I’ll see if I can find out.
Given it works fine with Visa and Mastercard debit cards, there should be no concerns about the use of credit cards for low income earners.
Maybe there’s a good reason. But it seems completely illogical to exclude a huge number of tech savvy public transport users who happen to use concession fares.
UPDATE Monday 5:30pm: The government has been in contact to advise that tertiary and other concession card holders can use Mobile Myki, by choosing the “General concession” option in the app. It appears the Fares And Ticketing Manual, normally the bible for these types of issues, is incorrect – perhaps the new Mobile Myki information was added in a hurry.
My blog’s RSS feed has been having problems. This has also affected some email subscribers. I think I’ve found the problem, so hopefully both are working again now.
Just a quick post:
The Age and Herald Sun reported yesterday that Metro Trains Melbourne made an annual profit of $29 million, on $786 million of revenue — despite still regularly missing punctuality targets.
I’m not sure the fact that they’re taking a profit is really a surprise. They’re a private company, and they wouldn’t be in this game otherwise.
Is the 3.6% profit high, or low, for a company earning $786m in revenue per year? I dunno.
Of course, if Metro misses targets, a lot of the blame should really be on the poor state of rail infrastructure – owned by the government. Upgrades are finally happening, but that follows decades of neglect.
I think the broader question is whether the taxpayer is getting value for money overall from the train network (regardless of whether the operator is private or public).
I’m particularly concerned that there’s such a huge amount of infrastructure/fleet investment (capex), as well as the fees to the operators (opex), but the service provision still has a strong concentration on commuter peaks.
This means that a lot of the assets are only being fully used for a few hours a day, despite strong travel demand at other times (both on the roads and on the trains).
A moderate increase in opex would provide for all-day high frequencies (eg most stations with trains at least every 10 minutes for most of the day) that make much more effective use of the overall spend, and better match current travel demand by making the system so much more useful for people.
How much money are we talking about? One estimate I’ve seen is $100m per year. To put that in perspective, that’s about the same cost as the 2015 fare changes that capped zone 1+2 fares, and introduced the Free Tram Zone.
Yesterday Labormade a pledge to get started on buying the corridor for the same network.
And today the Coalitionhas pledged $2 billion for fast rail between Melbourne and Geelong – upgrades and additional tracks so that trains run at an average 160 km/h (rather than this being the top speed, as now). The investment would also include business cases for other projects.
The proposed east coast HSR network
The study is well worth a read if you’ve never had a look.
It would run between Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne. Gold Coast and Canberra would both be served by spur lines. This means compromising on timetable frequency and operations. The study says this design reduces the required station footprints, and speeds up the journey for through trains.
Let’s assume this plan is the most feasible. Fast rail has shown proven benefits in many countries. If all this investment occurred in Australia, it could cut air travel and spark development along the route – at least in the areas served by a station.
But there’s a catch. There are doubts about HSR’s viability for interstate travel in Australia. Our geography – the distances involved – makes it really difficult.
Unlike in Europe or Asia, the planned line between Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane is, I suspect, with current technology, a bit too long to be really competitive against air travel, with too few large intermediate destinations.
Will conventional rail technology increase speeds in the coming years? It’s hard to say. Regular service speeds of about 320-350 km/h seem to have been the maximum for about 20 years. (But I’m a terrible futurist.)
It probably makes sense to reserve the corridors, but I’m less sure about trying to build the whole east coast network right now – especially with such a backlog of public transport projects in major cities and along regional corridors.
What’s most viable right now?
Rather than try and take on building a full HSR system which might cost tens of billions of dollars with sub-optimal travel time outcomes, what if the most obvious portion, Sydney to Canberra, was the focus for now?
That’s the sector that’s relatively straightforward. At an expected 64 minutes by train, it is a short enough distance to be competitive with air (55 minutes plus transit time, which could easily be another 30-60 minutes), and long enough to be competitive with road (about 180 minutes).
There are also fast-paced improving local connections at each end.
It would be a good first project, and if done well, gain good political support for further extensions or lines elsewhere, thanks to serving Canberra’s politicians.
To be fair, the study actually said this should be the first section. I’m just not sure the politicians are paying attention.
Think local and regional
While we wait for east coast high speed rail, there’s a compelling argument for upgrades to the existing regional lines for intra-state travel (such as Melbourne’s commuter lines to Geelong, Ballarat, Bendigo, Seymour/Shepparton, Gippsland) to get ensure the existing fleet can attain and stick to their maximum speeds for more of their trip: full duplication, for a start, and provision and separation of metro services, especially to Melton and Wyndham Vale.
In this respect, the Federal Coalition’s pledge today makes some sense. It seems like quite a lot of money for only a moderate time saving – if the train fleet needs to be replaced, should they be aiming for higher speed than average 160/top speed 200?
Of course, assuming it includes track amplification, there would also be capacity benefits for Melbourne’s west.
With any of these plans, high speed rail needs to be accompanied by boosts to local public transport connections around the regional stations. If a major rail line is reliant on park and ride, that will severely limit patronage.
So, as always, excuse my rambling. What I’m trying to say is this:
A full interstate HSR network along the east coast has a lot of potential… eventually. But I suspect shorter distance projects are probably more viable right now.
I see Albo recently claimed that Sydney to Newcastle by train is slower now than 50 years ago. I’d be interested if anybody has fact-checked this claim. Every such claim made in Victoria is invariably wrong.
Mentone: One thing I’m less than happy about is that the station entrance will be a long way from the bus interchange. Currently the buses stop right next to the entrance to platform 1.
I hoped this might just be an issue with the artists impression. It’s not.
Cheltenham: I haven’t had a close look at this one yet (there’s precious little detail on either, in fact) but they have gone ahead with the plan to include a third platform.
The existing station has a third platform already. The difference is this one will be connected to the main line from both ends – enabling more operational flexibility. That why there are some references to a “third track” – this will not include an actual third track to Southland (to the north) or Mentone (to the south).