Search

An utter shambles

PUBLISHED: 10:56 03 February 2003 | UPDATED: 16:15 24 February 2010

HOLDING down and simplifying fares makes it easier for passengers to use public transport and so helps to reduce congestion on the roads. Not my words, but those of London Mayor Ken Livingston, introducing the 2003 Transport for London tickets and fares booklet.

HOLDING down and simplifying fares makes it easier for passengers to use public transport and so helps to reduce congestion on the roads. Not my words, but those of London Mayor Ken Livingston, introducing the 2003 Transport for London tickets and fares booklet.

There then follows 40 pages of the most complex, mind boggling fares structure imaginable. The tube, buses, Croydon Tramlink, and Docklands Light Railway are all piled into a zonal structure which Mr Livingstone crows is a fine example of "simplying fares."

Saver tickets, one day bus passes, period bus passes, youth bus passes, one day tram and bus passes, DLR shuttle flyer and tickets, Tube-only short distance season tickets, zonal single fares, carnet tickets, inter-availability of tickets in national rail services . . . and so on.

Head over the Channel to any major city and there is no such nonsense. Passengers buy one ticket, valid 24 hours, which is available on tubes and buses. No zones, no complex rules and regulations.

I have long argued that public transport in Britain has descended into farce under a Government that seems utterly incapable of understanding that to encourage people to leave their cars at home you need an efficient, clean, modern integrated network with a fares structure that is cheap and uncomplicated.

Ipswich prides itself on having one of the few remaining municipal bus undertakings in Britain, but such socialist munificence does not even run to providing its inhabitants with a service on New Year's Day.

And then there's Virgin Trains. While waiting for a connection at Preston railway station the other week, I picked up a leaflet to discover that the return walk-on return fare to London Euston is an incredible £179 for a journey which is just two hours 32 minutes.

For that price, there is not even a guarantee of a seat. The train may be crammed with passengers from Glasgow or Carlisle and other seats reserved by those who have decided to pre-book their journeys and, by stipulating specified trains, can cut the price to £54.30 for a saver return or even £25 if bought 14 days in advance.

And with low coast air fares making the return Stansted to Glasgow journey a really cheap alternative to rail travel, what incentive is there for travellers to use relatively eco-friendly trains if there is such a ridiculous loading on fares?

THE victory of the far right British National Party at Calderdale Borough in West Yorkshire dominated last week's council by-elections. Whether it was a backlash over asylum seekers or deep overall disenchantment of voters with the two major parties may become clearer in May when all England's councils face election.

Elsewhere, the Tories did reasonably well. They had a big swing at Tottenham Hale in Haringey Borough, north London, and their candidate Paul Debenham polled 83.4% in a straight fight with Labour at Worlingworth, Mid Suffolk District, contrasted with 54.8% in 1999 when his party faced Liberal Democrat opposition.


If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the East Anglian Daily Times. Click the link in the orange box above for details.

Become a supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Latest from the East Anglian Daily Times