Free Tram Zone - Why?

Tomorrow, January 1 2015, PTV is introducing the Free Tram Zone.  A promise of both Napthine and then Andrews simply because he may not have been elected without it, the Free Tram Zone means you don't need to touch on, or even have a myki card, while travelling via tram in the below area:

Lets see who this might actually benefit:

City residents.  If you live inside, or close to the FTZ, and need to travel across it or to the other side of it.  But it's not the big an area, really, when it comes down to it.  Why not walk?  I guess if you were running late and really, really needed to get somewhere quickly (say you worked at Parliament and had a pressing engagement at Etihad Stadium, and you also lived in Docklands).  

Tourists.  But only if they want to stay confined to the CBD.  If they were here for a few days, they might benefit for one day spending it in the city, but invariably they are going to want to go outside the zone at some point, and will need a myki to do that.  Of course you could get off at the boundary and walk the rest of the way to the attraction you want to see, but then  

Car Drivers.  If you drive a car into the city, then yes, you will benefit.  You will pump a bunch of carbon monoxide into the atmosphere, well unless you drive a hybrid.  But if you drive a hybrid, why are you driving into the city?  Hypocrite much?  Enjoy your free tram trip in the city after your long, slow frustrating drive in.  

So, having gone through that, let's see who won't benefit:

Everyone else.  Yes, if you travel in from outside the Free Tram Zone on Public Transport, the FTZ will mean absolutely NOTHING to you.  You've already paid to get into town, and you'll need to pay to get back out of it again later if you stay there for more than two hours.  So the FTZ means diddly squat. 

Why it's inequitable? I will be able to travel for free from Docklands to Parliament if I wanted.  But I can't travel for free from Church Street Richmond to Burnley Street Richmond on a 48 or 75 Tram, I need to pay.  With myki, if I touched on and off, it should be smart enough not to charge me for short trips (which is what the FTZ really gives you) anywhere on the network.  But myki isn't smart enough.  I certainly wouldn't trust it to give me a free trip for distances under 1 kilometre using GPS on a tram or Bus, for instance, even though technically it should be capable of that.  And neither do our government, or otherwise they may have actually done something like that to make it a fairer system for everyone, not just a select few in a very specific part of Melbourne.  

Anyway, if you see someone taking a tram trip in the CBD and touching on, it'll be me.  I did pay for it after all, even though it's "Free".


  1. I suspect it is possible to re-instate the old city-saver zone to fill this free-travel zone, and surely not too hard to set the fare for such a zone to $0. But doing so would require abandoning the "no need to touch-off" mantra, which was put in place primarily because of the congestion in the CBD that led to delays as people tried to touch-off!

  2. Good post, but I must disagree with: "Yes, if you travel in from outside the Free Tram Zone on Public Transport, the FTZ will mean absolutely NOTHING to you".

    I live near the terminus of the 48 tram, and it's already incredibly difficult to even get onto a tram outbound on Collins St during peak, let alone get a seat. With the FTZ, free-riders will quickly fill up trams on already overcrowded routes and prevent people who actually need to use the tram to get home from getting on.

  3. Provide free bike share instead. People healthier and still get around the CBD quickly.

  4. As somebody who rides into the city 3 days a week (it's a 74km round trip, so i need some rest days), this is great, it means i can use the trams for free on my non PT days.

    Bike share is limiting when wearing a suit at lunchtime, they aren't really designed for cycling.


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