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Action passengers not tagging off paying higher fares

Failing to tag off with a My Way card has cost travellers more than $260,000.

Failing to tag off with a My Way card has cost travellers more than $260,000. Photo: Supplied

Three years after the My Way bus passes were introduced, passengers are still failing to "tag off" and paying a much higher fare as a result.

Since the beginning of July last year, the Government has collected an extra $263,400 from people who are penalised for not using the ACTION bus pass to "tag off" as they left the bus.

Municipal Services Minister Shane Rattenbury said 150,400 travellers had failed to tag off in the nine months, which was 1.6 per cent of people who tagged on.  If you don't tag off at the end of your bus trip, you pay the full default fare of $4.50 instead of the bus-pass fare of $2.84 for a weekday trip.

Did you tag off?

Did you tag off? Photo: Marina Neil

The figures were provided in answer to questions from Liberal transport spokesman Alistair Coe, who questioned why passengers were being asked to tag off at all, given the city doesn't operate a zone system for bus fares, but has one fare throughout.

"Given we don't have a zonal system, tagging off is not required and therefore it seems quite heavy handed of the Government to be taking $263,000 off the relatively few people who use ACTION buses," he said. "There is no genuine fare need to tag off because it's the same fare wherever you go."

For the first year of the new bus-pass system, people were not penalised for failing to tag off. About 2.5 per cent of people failed to tag off then, when there was no penalty, compared with 1.6 per cent in the latest data.

Mr Coe said when he had asked for the average length of a bus trip a year ago, he had been told that data was not available from the system.

"If they're not extracting that what are they extracting?" he said. "If you're going to slug people for it, you should use the data."

Mr  Rattenbury said My Way data was used to see where people travelled to and from, the most used routes, and how many people used particular stops – which enabled improvements to the network and prioritisation of shelters and upgrades.

While data on average travel length and time could be collated, it would be resource intensive and there was no need for the data given the flat fare structure, he said.

"When Mr Coe sought this information in 2013 he could not provide reasonable grounds for ACTION to undertake this work and it was therefore not prepared for him," Mr Rattenbury said.

Eighty per cent of passengers now used My Way cards.

In the early days of the system Government Minister Simon Corbell told an inquiry the My Way data allowed the Government to plan the network on a much more reliable basis, instead of relying on drivers to do passenger counts.

Data would be available on where people were travelling, how many were getting on at particular stops and whether people were transferring.

29 comments

  • And is an example of the principles of prescriptive government.

    They define the rules by which we are to comply and punish (fiscally) when we do not.

    Parking is another example of this.

    So having to have a card to access a service which has a monitary value on it, means the collected pool of card balances earns the government money and is a free source of dipping in whenever the system (be it user ignorance of failings or technology failings) does not work as intended.

    Wasn't money (around for thousands of years) so much simpler, practical, and cheaper to use as a means of payment. I think it was.

    Commenter
    Business Process Re-Engineering believer
    Location
    Land of La La Government
    Date and time
    March 27, 2014, 11:51AM
    • Good idea, lets ALL pay the driver in cash every trip.

      Commenter
      Teph 2
      Location
      Canberra
      Date and time
      March 27, 2014, 12:24PM
    • Its red tape gone bonkers and should be abolished. Why on earth users have to tag on and then tag off as if they are at kindergarten escapes me. In any case, after three years of operation, the data should now be available to inform the government of usage.

      Commenter
      Sir Akari
      Date and time
      March 27, 2014, 1:41PM
    • Remember at the time that this successful tender was the winner on cost and that people were told to change their behaviour.

      What is to stop you tag on and then tagging off within 30 secs?

      Commenter
      Muppet Show
      Date and time
      March 27, 2014, 2:04PM
    • @Sir Akari, it's not red tape gone mad and should not be abolished. Every transport smart card on the planet works this way.

      Commenter
      Mike
      Date and time
      March 27, 2014, 5:51PM
    • Yes, the stored value on the card is technically available to ACTION to use to reduce interest payments, help meet costs, cover unpaid fares etc.

      If you use auto top-up, they give you a 5% discount to allow for this.

      OTOH, if they didn't do ANY of this, the fares would be higher; so your problem is WHAT exactly?

      For the tiny minority who can't be bothered to tag off - the solution is in your OWN hands! Follow the simple instructions, and tag OFF like everybody else does. You must be smart enough to have figured out how to tag ON - so it really shouldn't be too difficult for you.

      Commenter
      Robert
      Location
      Canberra
      Date and time
      March 27, 2014, 8:46PM
  • So, 80% of passengers use MyWay and of those 1.6% forget to tag off at the end of a trip. Which means 1.28% of all passengers (including those who do not use MyWay) are forgetting to tag off. Big whoop.

    Commenter
    Sheesh.
    Date and time
    March 27, 2014, 11:56AM
    • Sheesh, it is a big deal as its just money for nothing for ACTION. Keep in mind the 'tag off fee' also applies to school children so i wonder how many of those 1.28% are kids? Sure collection of data to see what stops passengers are using will ultimately help to improve services but when a student concession card is used on a weekday it wouldnt take a rocket scientist to figure out where they are getting off without them 'tagging'. Charging them double for forgetting to tag off (which for an easily distracted school kid) when its pretty obvious they are disembarking at the same place each weekday, It reeks of gouging to me. The myway system saves Action money by not having countless patrons using cash which costs Action money to handle and improves their timetable effectiveness by reducing the time it takes to board the bus. So they are already saving by patrons using the card. When have you ever heard of a company effectively saying 'we are using your usage data to improve our service, oh and if you dont provide it we're going to charge you' ??? Heres an idea. Connect the button for 'stop bus' to the system and let IT tell you which stops the bus is stopping at and get your hand out of peoples pockets.

      Commenter
      J72
      Date and time
      March 27, 2014, 12:49PM
  • My kids catch buses and the amount of time they complain they have to tag multiple times to log on the bus and then to try to tag off with a faulty machine is impossible as you have many people behind you all waiting to do the same thing and often the drivers snap at them to hurry up! I dont think its a matter of people "forgetting" as apposed to faulty machinery.
    more revenue raising for the government I guess!

    Commenter
    Deb
    Date and time
    March 27, 2014, 12:34PM
    • We shouldn't complain, $4.50 is still a great price compared to other cities. The proportion of travellers (1.6%) not tagging off is small too. And, if you do forget to tag off, or have some other problem with the MyWay card, if you contact Action, they will fix it for you.

      I'm one happy bus commuter and don't think I'm the only one. I love MyWay, it is the fastest, easiest method to get people on and off the bus. I get annoyed with cash people taking too long! :)

      Commenter
      Bus commuter
      Date and time
      March 27, 2014, 12:45PM

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