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Friday, January 02, 2009

Tube Fares Rise by 6% today

Amongst the general rise in rail fares across the country, London Underground and bus fares will today increase by an average of 6%.

Fortunately, the £4 adult cash fare in Zone One of the Tube (which already pretty high in comparison to other major cities' subway systems) will be frozen. However, fares in other zones will go up from £3 to £3.20. The lowest adult cash fare on the DLR rises from £1.50 to £1.60. The
BBC has a summary of the new fares and the full changes are on TfL's site.

Trying to get on Crowded Tube

However, if you're on benefits, travel off peak, are elderly or disabled you'll see some advantages. There's a new off peak period running from 9.30am to 4pm with reduced Tube & DLR fares. There will also be half-price bus and tram fares for Londoners on Income Support, plus the Freedom Pass for the over 60s and disabled passengers will have the off-peak use restrictions lifted, which means that the elderly can travel before 9.30am. Fun for them in the rush hour, I know, but I often see elderly folk after 9am, getting caught out & looking really sad that they can't use their passes.

The general rail fares will hit the many commuters who use non TfL networks to get into London, with some tickets going up by more than 11%. From today, regulated fares, which include annual season tickets, will be going up by an average of 6% and unregulated fares, which include off-peak tickets, will be rising even more - by an average of 7%.

Just as an example, if you have an annual season ticket using Southeastern railways for the Gillingham-London route, that will go up by 10.2% & will cost you £3,020. More examples can be found here.

Customer watchdog body Passenger Focus, have been quoted across many national papers today saying that rail travellers would "shudder and shiver when they find out the scale of some New Year fare rises".

Their chief exec, Anthony Smith, said "Fare rises that hark back to a time of high inflation and spiralling energy costs look very out of kilter.

"In addition, the perpetual tinkering with ticket restrictions ensure back door fare rises continue. Yet again, many long distance passengers will be pushed into paying higher prices or locking themselves into rigid advance purchase, one train only fares. As an immediate action we call on ministers to open discussions with the train companies to limit the range that regulated fares can go up. Big rises simply cannot be justified in more normal times let alone the current economic climate
."

Obviously the both London's Mayor & rail companies are quick to defend the increases saying they allow for greater investment in services. Johnson said the rise is "sustaining the massive investment we are making to upgrade the Tube, build Crossrail, and tackle congestion on our transport network."

Photo by Emma and Lorenzo Wood

Michael Roberts from the Association of Train Operating Companies, told the BBC that "Fare changes this year will help pay for 265,000 extra services, all against a background which is determined by government policy to reduce the call on us as taxpayers."

The UK train network SUCKS! by Justin Nash

Unsurprisingly, he added that the fares: "actually in our view strike the right balance between trying to ensure a reasonable level of increase to fund in return much improved services".

Severed Delays by Danny Birchall

If (which is a very, very, big if) we see improved services, that'd be great. But the fact is that every year we see above inflationary fare rises and every year, our journeys hardly improve. Statements from Johnson & Roberts become an annual hollow spin and you'll see on the news today many commuters saying "Yeah, yeah, let's see some changes then". I doubt this year will be any different, but I'll be more than happy to be proved wrong. Until then we'll continue to grin & bear it and see rail travel as a necessary inconvenience.

Prepay or Travelcard Calculator - For a number of years now James Cridland has made a cool little tool that can work out whether an Oyster card prepay or a Travelcard is better value for you. He's just updated it with the new fares. You simply answer a few questions about your yearly travel, press a button and that's it. My annual travel card is definitely better value for me, but it's not the case for everyone. Try yours here.


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