It appears that new flexible tickets aimed at part time workers will not be available to commuters using Southeastern in London Travelcard Zones when they launch nationwide.
The advent of increased home working in recent years has seen greater calls for part-time season tickets, which has greatly accelerated over the past year as millions took to home working.
In recent weeks the Department for Transport – who set most fare levels on the UK rail network – revealed long awaited plans. In many instances it didn’t go down too well, with minimal discount compared to full monthly tickets.
Some routes will see passengers buying carnets in advance “enjoy” discounts as low as 10 per cent compared to full monthly tickets.
But for those who use Southeastern in London, it appears there with be absolutely no discount at all in this Twitter comment made today:
Many will no doubt blame Southeastern though this is a decision made at the Department for Transport and the Treasury.
It’s because Oyster and contactless fares exist. That ignores that single oyster fares have risen well above inflation each and every year for a decade now for Southeastern Metro passengers – unlike much of London which are either TfL operated or use the Tfl fare scale, such as c2c over the Thames.
If you expected Government to encourage sustainable travel and assist public transport after a tumultuous year, think again. So far we’ve seen above inflation fare rises imposed on TfL alongside fare increases on national rail. Petrol duty was however frozen.
Neither the Department for Transport nor Treasury seem keen in taking the initiative to promote public transport. Emergency support has been in place – with severe conditions imposed on TfL – but little in the way of a clear strategy to build back passenger numbers and hesitant passengers.
None of this is particularly new for south east London. When the existing Southeastern franchise was awarded in 2006, fare increases were set at inflation plus 3 per cent each year.
That led to single and return journeys for passengers in South East London rising far in advance of levels paid in much of London.
In return rolling stock has become ever more decrepit, missing out on refurbishments most rolling stock sees every 10-15 years.
Many busy south east London stations remain unstaffed much of the day. Even new stations like the recently rebuilt Kidbrooke – in the midst of thousands of new homes – saw plans for ticket gates and staffing alongside pulled late on.
Plans to transfer services to TfL were also blocked by Chris Grayling. Seemingly endless short term extensions since 2014 saw no strategy or plan in place. Oh, except the grand plan for staff to have iPads. Remember that?
And now we see that part time workers will have no discount or option for flexible season tickets. It’s hardly a surprise, but again shows little initiative in making rail attractive again while traffic and congestion increase.
The new plan is to create an arms-length national rail company, but unless the DfT and Treasury change tack and start to see value in public transport, expect little to change – at least in south east London.
UPDATE 21 June: They’ve launched to a whimper – at best. Even those who can get them in Kent are complaining that in some cases it’s no cheaper than buying expensive anytime fares on the day.
While commuters may be seen as a captive market (though that appears not to be the case for an increasing number) one major downfall with the flexi-ticket is no weekend travel is included. With a weekly or monthly, weekend trips are thrown in which acts as an incentive for leisure trips and to ditch the car.
Areas like central London are crying out for custom after a tough year – and the flexi ticket doesn’t offer it. People will have to pay for weekend journeys – and many thus won’t bother travelling on train or drive adding to congestion. Driving to many areas isn’t welcome, so that’s less custom for the hospitality industry.
At a time when business is suffering, the inflexibility of the so-call flexi ticket is evident. A stark lack of ambition is evident from the DfT and Treasury. Short term penny pinching could cost long term custom.