The goCard by TRANSLink, friend or foe.

goCard by TRANSLinkWith the release of the goCard some time ago, travellers in the South East of Queensland Australia can now use a card which is pre-paid and can be topped up for the use of  travelling on public transport.  The idea is that all busses, ferries and train stations have a swipe point that allows you to swipe your card when entering or leaving a station, bus stop etc.  Each swipe tells TRANSLink where you got on and off and what type of public transport you used so they can calculate what your fare would be.

So why use a goCard?  According to the TRANSLink web site they claim the following.

  • Quicker
  • Great Value
  • Convenient
  • Easier
  • Smarter
  • Reusable
  • Safer

I won’t go into all of the bullet points as there is one item in particular that I would like to expand on, and that is their claim of Great Value.

They claim that by using the goCard you will receive 20% to 35% discount off of the usual full fare, and if you use your card more than 10 times in a week (Starting first service on Monday and finishing last service on Sunday) you will get 50% off of the cost of any fairs (after the first 10) for the remainder of that week.

So, let’s take a closer look at this Great Value.  I’ll use the station near me as an example but if you are in zone 5 like I am then the figures below will be identical.  I will also need to assume that your travel is for getting to and from work, so 10 trips per week.

Using the goCard, each trip will cost you $3.44 at 10 trips per week will come to $34.44. Now let’s compare that to a weekly ticket which will cost you $34.40. Hmm, that’s interesting; I don’t see how by using a goCard that it gives you Great Value.

Maybe I’m not using the full potential of the goCard.  Maybe if I used the goCard more often during the week I can take advantage of the 50% rate that is on offer.

Let’s examine the comparison with going to and from work for a week and then adding in a weekend trip to the markets or a ride on the City Cat.

So using my goCard I would have the ten trips at $34.44.  Let say I take a ride from Southbank to Eagle St on the City Cat, with a return journey which would cost me $1.92 each way, but as I have exceeded 10 trips for the week that would make the fare $1.92 and not $3.84.  Now that’s not a bad saving.  My weekly cost would be $36.36. So how does that compare to a weekly ticket.  My weekly ticked would cost me $34.44.  As my weekly ticket covers the cost of all transportation for the 7 day period within zone 5 there would be no additional expense using the weekly ticket.  I’m now starting to see the value in the goCard (sarcasm if you’re not aware).

Let’s take this a bit further down the time scale.  Maybe the Greater Value is over a longer time period.  Let’s look at it over a 12 month period.  Surely the goCard will offer better value for this period.

As there are public holidays, annual leave and sick days to take into considerations I’m going to base the amount of trips to be 440.

How did I work out the 440 trip calculation?

52 weeks to a year
4 weeks a year holiday
2 weeks a year public holidays
2 weeks a year sick leave

44 weeks at 10 trips per week comes to 440 trips.

So 440 trips per year comes to $3.44 times 440 which is $1,513.00 using your goCard.  If I was to purchase a yearly ticket which covers 5 zones the cost will be $1,376.00.  That makes the goCard $137 more expensive to use.  The other advantage of the yearly ticket is if I go to the footy or just use public transportation more often I am getting better value with a yearly ticket rather than using the goCard, as the yearly ticked includes all travel within zone 5.  In reality I only take 2 to 3 weeks a year for holidays and I’d be unlucky enough to take 1 week’s sick leave and not two which makes the yearly ticket so much more value than the Great Value goCard.

In summary: For those people who only use public transport once or twice a week at the most, the goCard offers great value, but for those who use public transport 5 or more times a week with return journeys then you are much better off without the Great Value goCard.

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5 Responses to The goCard by TRANSLink, friend or foe.

  1. Simon says:

    Interesting, might get a yearly next time I move house.

  2. As of January 2010, TransLink has changed their pricing for the use of the GoCard and paper tickets. It is now more cost effective to use a GoCard than to purchase a ticket for travel. One of the main reasons this is so, is because TransLink now don’t offer you the ability to purchase quarterly, half yearly or yearly tickets.

    TransLink now also offer a discounted fair using the GoCard in off peak. This now makes the GoCard the only cost effective method in paying for travel.

  3. Mark Le Gros says:

    It should be noted that the former yearly and half yearly tickets were valid for trains only. So not the perfect comparasion as the Go Card gives access to bus train and ferry.

  4. Hi Mark, yes you are correct. My article was purely on the Train as I do not travel on buses or ferries as a general rule.

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