The Discount Fare Fiasco

Page last modified/checked: Saturday, 02 October, 2004

A key marketing strategy to help launch the new fare structure was an attempt to create a favourable impression with commuters that they were purchasing their weekly tickets at a rate discounted from what the cost was supposed to be. To emphasise this, all initial supplies of weekly travelcards and rail only weeklies had a price printed on the front in excess of the actual cost. These prices followed a pattern according to the different weekly types and varied from $2.00 to $9.00. These introductory discounts were also shown in the individual neighbourhood brochures as part of the Government's trumpeting that "the fares are fair". Commuters did not think likewise and were furious at the prospect of the cost of their travel being bumped up over an indeterminate period at the discretion of beaurocracy. The backlash from this ill-thought idea was so severe that Steve Crabb was forced to try and console matters in Tuesdays newspapers. The Government were bent over a barrel and had to state catagorically that there would be no fare rise for at least another 12 months. As things turned out, fares did not increase until November of 1985 and eventually the price was removed from most Met tickets. Stocks of weekly tickets were allowed to sell out and were replaced by issues showing the current price. As for the discount fares, they were never mentioned again and it wasn't until the fare rise in 1986 that some weeklies reached their supposed full rate. A few got much closer from 1987, but the rest never got anywhere near their intended amount.

From "The Age", 15th November 1983