So Boris Johnson has announced most of next year’s Transport for London fares, set against the background of government cuts. No news yet on what the privatised rail companies, including Southeastern, are planning, but what’s coming out of TfL isn’t good.
Firstly, bus fares are up 10p with Oyster – putting them up to £1.30. This means bus fares have risen by 44% since Boris took charge in 2008 – but it’s much less than the 20% rise we suffered last year, and the daily Oyster cap only goes up by 10p, to £4. More a poke in the ribs than the knee in the guts issued 12 months ago.
As ever, the devil’s in the detail – and what a day to bury bad news on. Deep in the press release are huge rises in one day travelcards – meaning occasional commuters and leisure users are the latest ones to be screwed by Boris’s fare rises. In the “notes to editors” – that spot which gets ignored by those editors – is the following passage…
London Travelcard season ticket prices will generally increase by around RPI plus two per cent.
The One Day Travelcard range will be simplified and slow selling tickets withdrawn.
The new range will comprise all-day and off-peak tickets valid in Zones 1-2, 1-4 and 1-6.
One Day pay as you go caps will mirror the new ticket range and prices.
Off-peak One Day Travelcard prices increase by up to £1, for example a Zone 1-2 off-peak Travelcard will increase from £5.60 to £6.60.
If you ever get a zones 1-2 off peak one day travelcard, that’s a 17.8% rise straight off. The zone 1-4 one-day travelcard is also up by £1, to £7.30 (a 15.8% rise). The zones 1-6 ticket is up by 50p to £8 (up 6.66%). These rates also apply to Oyster fare caps.
Missing from the new range of travelcards are peak travelcards for zones 1-3 and zones 1-5 – you’re hit with a big rise. If you buy a peak travelcard from a zone 3 station like Charlton, you pay £8.60 today – under the new plan, you’d be forced to buy a zone 1-4 ticket, which will cost £10 (a 16.2% rise). If you buy a peak travelcard from a zone 5 station like Bexleyheath, your fare leaps from £12.60 to £15 (a 19% rise). These rises, which will affect people who commute only a few days each week, also affect Oyster pay-as-you-go caps, which follow the same patterns.
Most sneaky of all, though, is the disappearance of the zone 2-6 off-peak one day travelcard – the freedom of everything so long as you don’t stray into central London by rail, Tube or DLR. It’s only £5.10 – but it makes trips around rather than into London good value. It’s also, by definition, a ticket used by many in outer London – that’s right, the suburban voters that obediently lined up and voted for Boris in 2008.
According to the fares list, finally revealed by TfL on Thursday, a traveller from a zone 5 station like Bexleyheath will be forced to buy a zone 1-6 ticket – which rises to £8 from January, a 56.8% rise. Anyone who uses the peak hours version of this ticket from a zone 5 station will see their fare rocket from £9 to £15 (60% increase).
Again, all this also applies to the cap on Oyster cards.
It’s pretty much clear that as far as public transport users in outer London go, they can take a running jump as far as Boris Johnson’s concerned. After all, someone has to pay for the scrapping of the congestion charge in Chelsea, and train travellers in Crayford and Sidcup look like being the ones who are doing it. Again.
But where is Boris’s challenger, Ken Livingstone, to fight for outer Londoners? He seems more interested in getting involved in the venal, crazy internal politics of Tower Hamlets Labour Party than wooing voters who deserted him in the suburbs. It’s about time Ken realised that the people of Welling are as important as the people of Whitechapel – maybe he can reflect on that today while he’s at a travel convention in, er, Malta.
Still, never mind – Boris wants to make 2011 the year of walking…