Public Transport – Which Ticket?

10 03 2008

Public Transport

If you’re looking for a basic introduction to Brisbane’s ticketing system, see Public Transport – Buying a Ticket. It explains integrated fares and zoning.

Translink currently offer a range of tickets, all of which suit different needs. The question is – which one is right for you?

go card

This card has received a lot of publicity recently, partly because of the huge problems encountered by Translink in getting it working and rolled out. It’s been available to the general public since 21 February – long enough to have generated a lot of conversation. While it’s convenient to some, others have found it an expensive annoyance.

Convenience Factors – No zone restrictions (can be used almost anywhere in the Translink network). Makes carrying cash unnecessary.

Usage Restrictions – Not currently accepted on Airtrain, Laidley Bus or Surfside Bus services.

Price Options – No discounts are applied for off-peak travel. If you’re a regular public transport user, your first 6 trips in a week will be charged at full price. You’ll then receive a 50% discount on all trips for the remainder of the week. ‘Week’, in this case, is designated Monday to Sunday. So if you make those 6 trips on Thursday- Saturday, then you’ll pay full price again on Monday. For a standard 5 days/wk 2 trips/day traveller, this works out the same price as a weekly or ten-trip ticket. For anyone else, it could work out far more expensive.

go card Top-ups – Top-ups via credit card are available via the website or phone. May (read ‘most probably will’) take 48 hours to process. So this is not a quick “Whoops I need more money on my go card” option. Top-ups are also available at rail stations (EFTPOS or cash) and should be applied immediately.

Automatic Fines – If you forget to touch your card when leaving a bus, ferry or station, a fine will be automatically removed from your card. Ditto if the card reader isn’t working. At the moment the fine is $5 for an adult train passenger, less for bus passengers and concession holders. The current plan is to double the fine later in the year. This is non-refundable, although in theory a non-working card reader would get you a refund.

Paper Tickets

Single – This allows you to travel on as many services as you need to in order to take the shortest route from one location to another, within the specified zones.

Daily – A daily ticket is double the price of a single for the same zones, and allows you to travel all day in the zones specified, as many times as you want. If you have a zones 1-7, for example, you could travel from Ipswich to Brisbane City to Redcliffe and back.

Off-peak Daily – Exactly the same as a daily, but only valid on weekends, or on weekdays from 9am to 3:30pm and after 7pm. It’s 75% of the price of the equivalent daily.

Weekly Ticket – A weekly ticket costs the same as 8 single trips in the specified zones. For example, a single ticket for zones 1-3 costs $3.20. A zones 1-3 weekly ticket costs $25.60. It is valid for an unlimited number of trips for 7 days from the issue of the ticket.

Ten-Trip Ticket – A ten-trip ticket costs the same as a weekly ticket. Where it differs from a weekly is that it allows you only ten trips within the zones specified, but does not limit you to a specific time period (ie, doesn’t expire after a week). In theory, it allows you to transfer from one service to another as part of your trip without charging you for another trip. But they seem to be keyed to direction of travel. If the first service you get on is travelling toward the city, and you get off in the city and catch one away from the city, you may find yourself overcharged. Keep an eye out. These tickets are valid for Brisbane City Council buses and ferries only – not for trains or private bus companies.

Price Comparisons

Scenario 1

John travels from Ipswich to the city every weekday for work. He usually goes to the Valley on a Saturday night, and sometimes goes to Southport (on the Gold Coast) on a Sunday. Because he doesn’t have a car, he uses public transport for all of his travel.

go card – John will pay $5 per trip for the first three days of the week – $30. He’ll then pay half-price for the remainder of the week – $10 for the rest of his weekday travel, $5 for his visit to the Valley, and $8.40 for his trip to and from Helensvale station. He’ll need to buy a paper ticket to travel any further on Surfside Bus Lines, because they haven’t integrated the go card readers yet – another $4.80 for a 3-zone off-peak daily ticket.

Paper Tickets – John would buy a weekly ticket for zones 1-7, as he typically makes more than 10 trips per week. This will cost him $40, and cover his weekday travel, his trip to the Valley, and part of his Gold Coast trip. The extra cost for the remaining part of his Gold Coast trip (zones 8-13) will cost him $6.90 for an off-peak daily ticket.

Week’s travel cost using the go card – $58.20
Week’s travel cost using paper tickets – $46.90

Scenario 2

Alison and Frank live in Beenleigh. Alison works 3 days a week in Yeerongpilly, and gets a lift home on average one of those nights. Her husband Frank works Monday-Friday in the city and uses public transport every weekday to get to work and home again. They have a car, and use it for weekend travel and grocery shopping.

go card – Alison pays full fare for each of her 5 trips – $4.10 per trip, $20.50 per week. Frank pays full fare for his first six trips – $5 per trip, $30. He then pays half-price for the rest of the week – 4 trips at $2.50 per trip, $10.

Paper Tickets – Alison buys daily tickets for 2 days of the week – $8.20 per day – and a single ticket the other day – $4.10. Frank buys a weekly ticket – $40.

Week’s travel cost using the go card – $60.50
Week’s travel cost using paper tickets – $60.50

Scenario 3

Sally lives in Toowong. She has two jobs – one in Milton on Monday-Wednesday, one in Sandgate on Friday-Saturday. She uses public transport only to get to and from work.

go card – Sally pays full fare for each of her trips to and from work in Milton – $2.30 per trip, $13.80 per week. She pays half-price for each of her trips to and from Sandgate – $1.80 per trip, $7.20 per week.

Paper Tickets – Sally buys a daily ticket each weekday that she works – $4.60 x 3, plus $7.20. She buys an offpeak daily – $5.40 – for the Saturday trip out to Sandgate and back.

Week’s travel cost using the go card – $21.00
Week’s travel cost using paper tickets – $26.40


Rare though Sally’s situation might be, it is possible to save money using a go card instead of the traditional paper tickets. People in a situation to do so will typically live fairly close to their workplace, work at least 3 days a week, and travel a comparatively long distance at least once a week. Others – perhaps a large number of people – will find that the go card is the same price and more convenient than paper tickets. Frequent public transport users, though, may well find that their ticketing costs would be significantly higher with the GO Card. Do the maths, check your situation out for yourself, and find the solution which works for you.

More Information

Check out these sites for more information on the go card and opinions from users:

Official go card information site
Brisbane Times readers’ opinions
Discussions on Back on Track Forum




4 responses

11 03 2008

Alex G brought up a good point about transfers (moving from one service to another). Apparently these have been buggy in the past, but in theory that’s been fixed.

According to what I’ve read, the go card does allow transfers – but may be buggy when it comes to train-bus transfers in different zones. The Back on Track Forum (link above) has an impressive number of threads related to consumer tests made on the card.

18 03 2008

That is SO confusing.

18 03 2008

Yup – tis. Good ol’ Queensland govt departments 😉

6 09 2008
mast3r gr33n

Hi all, i would like to bring to your attention that the Go Card is good most of the time and is convenient because you dont need to carry loose change everywhere….however, i have been using it for some time now and i am starting to get sick and tired of continually ringing up and trying to get a refund. On average i have at least one error a week with this ticketing system, some days it doesnt respond to my ‘touch on’ or ‘touch off’ and other days it reads it but charges me too much.
When i ring up to complain about the poor roll out of this system or try to get a refund from translink for lost bus and train fares i am often hung up on before my phone call reaches the front of the cue. After usually around 3 calls and more lost money in phone calls from my mobile while trying to fix a problem which has been caused by there equipment, i get the standard telemarketer who tries to tell me there is nothing wrong with the system and everything is fine. I then explain that the ticketing machine on the same bus route as i rang up about the week before has charged me the wrong price AGAIN. She says ok ill put in a refund request form and this will take up to 10 working days…there is no notification as to whether you get a refund after 10 days, so i ring up to find out and she says no refund was awarded because it seems you changed buses with out tapping off…i was like how and why would i change buses to head to the city (i didnt change buses), she said she will look into it and ask her supervisor and i have to wait another 10 working days.
so to sum up my little rant here…. the Go Card still has many errors which are not the consumers fault yet they are being charged for it. After one error and trying to get lost bus fares back, it costs you 3 unanswered phone calls, a rude costumer service rep, 10 working days of waiting and then denial of any refund because apparently i hoped off the bus which heading to the city and hope on another one just for fun and forgot to tag off…BULLSHIT

Thanks Qld Government for my new businesses initiative…im going to to charge my costumer every time i cause hassles and have errors in my operation scheme.

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