Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Fare increase on the buses and tube

The Mayor of London Ken Livingstone yesterday announced that the cash fare paid in London for a bus ride would go up from £1.50 to £2 and a single fare on the tube from £3 to £4 in the New Year. In a city that already has the highest transport fares in the world, this is a large increase and given the rises of the past few years the fares will have doubled indeed just three years the outer London bus fare was 70p and the inner London bus fare £1, an increase of 100%.

Nevertheless, while it is large rise, London has seen a boom in pre-paid oyster cards where the fares are half the price of cash fares. Indeed I now observe very few on buses now paying cash so it is clear that Londoners have cottoned on to the benefits of pre-pay and given that many including myself are on travel cards the yearly increase will be a fraction of the amount.

The worry I have though is for the low paid and the persons that have difficulty understanding the system as their English may be limited. Bearing in mind that they have to pay £3 deposit to get an oyster card along with having a minimum £5 credit on the card you are looking at an entry fee of £8, of course, many will quickly make the savings, but I do have concerns about potential cost to people on low income.

However, benefits have arisen from pre-pay and a faster boarding time takes place on buses. This in turn helps speeds up the bus journey time as paying cash takes up time. In London we have a bus service that is the envy of the world(even if it might be a bit expensive) while I have come across better metro systems in the world I have yet to find another city that has a bus service to rival London's. In London we have benefited from having a regulated bus service unlike the rest of the UK, if buses had been de-regulated in London we would never have the system we have now. Also for years we have had free travel for the over 60's and more recently under 16's on buses.

Long-term transport has been improving in London and passenger numbers rising but I do fear that we may potentially be pricing people off public transport; it is something that Mayor needs to monitor closely.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Martin, two points :

1. Your concern about future fare rises is shared by many, but is there a formal mechanism (e.g. via Borough Transport Committees filtering their views upwards to some London C'tee)to ensure that people's concerns are duly considered by the final decision-makers?

2. Besides perhaps drawing up Bus Lanes and Metered Parking areas, do the Councils have any power/jurisdiction over transport such as, for example, levying surcharges on 4WDs that pass through and thus heavily pollute our immediate vicinities?


Andy Ray

6:02 am  

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