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AIRPORT TRAIN RIPOFF

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THE GREAT AIRPORT TRAIN ROBBERY

This article is not really about roads and motorists, however it does involve driving as an alternative to this disgraceful Airport Link train ripoff. We all know about the infamous Great Train Robbery in Britain, but there is another type of Great Train Robbery happening in Sydney every day. This is the cost of using the Airport Link train from the Sydney CBD to Sydney Airport, a very short distance. The fares can only be described as a monumental ripoff and should be avoided at all times.

Although the Airport Link train runs on the same rails as the rest of the CityRail trains and uses the same trains, the fares are ridiculously steep because the Airport Link is a private company. The former NSW Labor government was too inept to provide a train line to the most important facility in Sydney, so it farmed this project out to a private company that is now gouging travellers like a robber baron.

AIRPORT TRAIN FARES ARE A SICK JOKE

In 2014, if you bought a normal single adult fare to take a train that went four stations on the normal CityRail network, let's say from Artarmon to North Sydney, it would have cost $3.80. But if you took the Airport Link train from the city to Sydney Domestic Airport, the same number of stations, the adult single fare was a whopping $16.40 - nearly 4 times the price of a four-station journey on a regular CityRail train and this is subject to rise periodically.

Charging passengers double the normal CityRail fare for the distance might be somehow justified by a private company, but to charge nearly 4 times the CityRail fare to travel four stations from the Sydney CBD to the airport is a sick joke and a blatant ripoff. So if two people are going from the Sydney CBD to the Domestic Terminal at Sydney Airport, the one-way adult fares on the Airport Link train would cost $32.80.

THE REASON FOR THE RIP-OFF

In 2014, passengers alighting at the privately run airport stations pay a $12.60 "station access fee" on top of the normal fare. It means an adult return peak ticket from Parramatta to the international terminal costs $35.60. Without the fee, it would cost $10.40. And why is the NSW government not acting on this monstrous rip-off? Very simply, yy 2016, the government is set to receive about $50 million annually in fee revenue generated by Airport Link Company, the operator of the airport stations.

AVOID THE AIRPORT TRAIN AND SAVE MONEY

As the airport domestic and international terminals are only a few kilometres from the Sydney CBD, the cab fare would be around $25 to $30 at the most. So what is a better proposition? Two people lugging bags on and off a train to get to the airport, or just catching a cab right to the terminal door for a cheaper and much more convenient experience? So next time you are thinking of going to Sydney airport, just boycott the Airport Link train completely, because it really is The Great Airport Train Robbery. Just park your car on a street near the airport, catch the bus or a cab to the terminal and never pay exorbitant parking fees or that ripoff Airport Link train fare.

MY CHEAP WAY TO GET TO THE AIRPORT

In May 2013, I had to go to Melbourne for an overnight visit to a function. I decided to see if there was a way to get to Sydney Airport from my house in the Sydney north-west Hills District using my car for most of the way, but avoid paying extortionate parking fees at the airport or at surrounding private parking company lots. This is how I did it.

I looked up all public transport facilities to Sydney Airport and discovered that Sydney Buses route 400 runs between Burwood and Bondi Junction, stopping at both the Domestic Terminal 3 and the International Terminal. A few days before my trip, I bought two pre-paid bus tickets, so that I would not have to try and pay on the bus. In any case, this bus route requires pre-paid tickets most of the time. Using an Opal Card will save having to purchase individual tickets.

So with my bus tickets in my pocket, I drove my car to a side street in Bexley where there were no parking restrictions whatsoever, parked it and caught the 400 bus to the Domestic terminal and flew to Melbourne. My car was about as safe being parked in that quiet side street as it would be if I had parked it outside my own house.

I flew back from Melbourne the next day, caught the 400 bus right outside the Terminal 3 door back to Bexley and walked around the corner to where I had parked my car and drove home. The entire cost of my journey to the airport were my car expenses, which I would have incurred anyway, had I driven to the airport carpark and $5 for the return bus fare, as I am a Seniors Card holder and get the $2.50 all-day fare. But even paying the regular bus fare would have been far cheaper than paying the extortionate parking rates around Sydney Airport.

People who live within easy walking distance of the 400 bus route don't even have to drive to a bus stop, but those who don't can merely look up a suitable location on that route to park their cars in side streets and catch the bus to the domestic or international airport terminal. This certainly beats forking out rip-off parking fees or paying that ludicrous fare on the Airport Link train.