Ballarat V/Line travellers paying double the price

BALLARAT to Melbourne train commuters are being ripped off to the tune of almost $20 for a return peak-time journey. 

Train travellers from Ballarat to Melbourne are being charged less if they touch on and touch off with their myki cards at Bacchus Marsh due to a zoning discrepancy.

Train travellers from Ballarat to Melbourne are being charged less if they touch on and touch off with their myki cards at Bacchus Marsh due to a zoning discrepancy.

Some commuters are paying less than $10 for the trip from Ballarat to Southern Cross, if it is broken at Bacchus Marsh. A typical, full-fare-paying, peak-time commuter pays almost $20.

 The reason is that for the part-way trips during peak times, commuters pay $5.88 from Ballarat to Bacchus Marsh, and then only $3.76 from Bacchus Marsh to Southern Cross. 

Their myki cards are charged a total of $9.64 if they touch on and off at each station, while through travellers are charged $19.20, or $9.56 more. 

Local commuter Damian Wicks, a professional analyst by trade, told The Courier Ballarat commuters were being “royally shafted”. 

“Surely this isn’t right? We’re talking half the price,” he said.

“And times are tough – every dollar counts. Why pay double when you don’t have to?”

But the body responsible for the fares, Public Transport Victoria, said the system “was working exactly as it should” and the discrepancy was due to new fares introduced in January. 

“Without knowing the exact travel pattern, it’s difficult to explain the discrepancy because of how fares are charged, how the products – including duration of ticket depending on length travelled – are applied, whether it is in peak or off-peak, and whether a journey was started with a ticket that was still valid,” PTV communications manager Adrian Darwent said.

“Travel across zones one and two is now charged (as) a zone one fare, and this will account for some of the discrepancy when the touch on and off occurred at Bacchus Marsh, which is in zone two.”

Mr Wicks said he had contacted PTV several times over the past six months, demanding reimbursement. 

“Two of the complaints people even agreed that it was insane that there was such a disparity in prices,” he said. 

“They refused reimbursement, but still couldn’t explain why Ballarat residents were paying $19.20 instead of $9.64.”

PTV warned that attempting to touch on and off at Bacchus Marsh to make the saving was dangerous, adding authorised officers and conductors would be monitoring commuters’ behaviour. 

“Disembarking and boarding the same train to touch on and off is unsafe and could result in serious injury, customers missing the train or delaying the service for other customers,” Mr Darwent said.

patrick.byrne@fairfaxmedia.com.au