Monday, March 30, 2009


Action for Public Transport (NSW)
PO Box K606 Haymarket NSW 1240

27th March 2009


Sydney's occasional bus users and tourists will be deterred from using Sydney's buses thanks to Treasury accountants insisting on collecting every last dollar in fares, according to a transport consumer group.

"The city's buses are rapidly going Pre-Pay, which is great for speeding up buses, but it has left the infrequent users in no-mans-land," said Allan Miles, secretary of Action for Public Transport (APT).

"The Sydney fare system should be simple, and market-driven, getting as many people on public transport as possible," Mr Miles said. "Instead, we have accountants running the show, dead scared that somebody might score a free ride!"

Mr Miles said that the complicated fare section system is too difficult for visitors and ticket agents to understand. "Passengers denied entry and sent to an agent could be sold the wrong ticket," he said, "and face a penalty if confronted by an inspector." He said that ticket agents, unlike bus drivers, cannot be expected to know which bus goes to Haberfield, or what the fare is.

"A zone system as used in other cities would be much simpler for everyone," Mr Miles said, "but the government, supported by the Pricing Tribunal, clings to the nineteenth century pay-per-metre-travelled method."

Mr Miles said that alternatives such as zone fares, four-hour tickets or cheaper day tickets were shunned by government because they had "implications for revenue". "Marketing and passenger convenience are alien concepts in Treasury counting houses," he said.

From 6th April, bus passengers in the George Street corridor must have a ticket before boarding a bus at any stop between 7 am and 7 pm Monday to Friday. "APT generally supports this and other pre-pay projects," said Mr Miles, "but some of the rough edges need more attention."

Mr Miles said that many bus stops in George Street had no nearby ticket agents, or the agents were hard to find. "This must be remedied quickly," he said, "particularly at Town Hall and Railway Square."

He said that one solution would be a cheap one- or two-zone all day bus ticket. "But Treasury ears are deaf," Mr Miles said. "They fear people will abuse a cut-price ticket and take an 80 km ride to Palm Beach and back."

"In the meantime," Mr Miles said, "State Transit should promote the existing BusTripper ticket costing $12.70. Most visitors would get their money's worth after three or four rides."

"However, far from promoting it," he said, "State Transit prefers to hide the BusTripper ticket. It is not mentioned among other pre-pay tickets on the glossy George Street brochures, or on bus timetables."

"The timing of the George Street conversion is rather unfortunate," Mr Miles said, "being only three days before the start of the Royal Easter Show, when the city will be crammed with visitors from near and far."

Contact: Allan Miles 9516 1906.

Action for Public Transport (NSW)
PO Box K606
Haymarket NSW 1240


  1. I am a part time bus user, and I can tell you that the pre-paid ticket idea has turned me off using a bus. I would say there are quite a few people who think exactly as I do on this. Pre-paid ticketing is a dumb idea!

  2. I have the EXACTLY opposite reaction to the pre-paid system. It has been a relatively pleasurable experience catching a bus since the pre-paid system has been introduced. No long do we have to suffer while some flaky individual feel that buying a ticket on the bus is the most appropriate time to rid themselves of their excess loose change, or to continue chatting to their friends on their mobiles, or to start riffling through their purse/handbags for money. Since the introduction of the pre-paid system, the buses have been arriving noticeably more on-time.

    Even London has a pre-paid bus ticket system. Everyone seems to cope well, unless we are suggesting that English passengers are intrinsically more intelligent than Australian ones. Part-time bus users should just pull their finger out and get a travel 10 ticket!

  3. Thanks for your contributions on this topic - it's interesting to see how the same change has effected people differently.

    It's a terrific goal to try and improve the efficiency of buses because that will increase ridership and satisfaction, and the pre-pay ticketing is an attempt to do that, but it is really important that we make sure that, when we make a change, we bring everyone along with the changes.

    It's not really good enough to just assume some people will not cope with the change and just leave them out. It is a new experience for people to buy their bus tickets in a shop and it will take some time for people to learn how to do it and where the shops are that have tickets.

    If we had an integrated system which was built around a single ticketing and marketing organisation, for all public transport, we would probably do a better job with this. Hopefully that's where we're heading.


Your comments are invited and appreciated. A good discussion helps with making public transport good.