Sunday, March 04, 2007

Travel for cheapskates

Today's incorporation of Zone 3 into Zone 2 has given those with more time than money new opportunities to save. For the cost of a Zone 2 fare (full fare 2-hour $2.40/daily $4.30 and about half for concession) it will be possible to make some very long trips very cheaply.

Fares are calculated on the basis of the number of zones travelled through. Therefore if both your origin and destination is in Zone 2 you need a 1+2 ticket if your journey takes you through Zone 1. But if you're able to skirt around Zone 1 then you just pay for Zone 2 to go from (say) Broadmeadows to Frankston.

Hence long cross-suburban bus routes within Zone 2 are essential for the obsessive fare minimiser. In the eastern suburbs there are the SmartBus routes 700, 703 and 888/889, with others such as 630, 665, 830, 831, 790 & 791 also having some use. Between the east and the north, 291 and 293 are important. Across the north you've got the 560. And in the west, there's the newly-introduced 400.

Interchanges served by many Zone 2 routes include Chadstone Shopping Centre Monash University Clayton, Dandenong, Glen Waverley, Box Hill, Ringwood, Heidelberg, Greensborough, Northland, Latrobe University and Sunshine.

One problem is that whereas most long suburban trips made by the most direct means possible require just a 2-hour ticket, skirting around Zone 1 can add one or even two hours, thus requiring a Daily ticket. Now the difference between a 2-hour 1+2 and a Daily 2 is 90 cents - hardly satisfying even for the meanest scrooge. Admittedly though the numbers improve when it's a return journey or it's after 6pm (but before the buses stop).

Most people want to get from A to B quickly and the amount extra paid for Zone 1 is small in comparison with the hour or two saved. However there exists a minority for whom either (i) the journey is the end not the means and (ii) saving money has become a compulsion rather than merely good management and it is these people who will make such unconventional trips.

If you do plan such cheapskate excursions, whatever you do, do it soon, before fares rise 10 to 20 cents in June!

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