diamond geezer

 Thursday, November 08, 2012

It's time once again for the annual announcement on tube/bus fare rises. This year's average price rise is 4.2%, which sounds bad, but is rather less that the 7% increase last year and similar the year before that. Here are a few of those fares in historical perspective, with Ken's years in red and Boris's in blue.

Cost of a single central London tube journey

The Zone 1 Oyster tube fare rises 5% in January to a new high of £2.10. Pessimists will note that this is 40% higher than when Boris came to power. Optimists, however, should note that it's still only 31% higher than a decade ago.

Cost of a single central London bus journey

The pay-as-you-go bus fare rises by 3.7% in January. That's a whopping 56% rise since Boris came to power, whereas Ken actually decreased fares over the previous five years. Equally Ken was ruling through a time of plenty whereas Boris has virtually no money to play with, so maybe the difference isn't surprising.

Cost of a tube journey from Green Park to Heathrow
Peak (Oyster)£3.50£3.80£4.20£4.50£4.80£5.00
Off-peak (Oyster)£2.00£2.20£2.40£2.70£2.90£3.00
Visitor (cash)£4.00£4.00£4.50£5.00£5.30£5.50

It's a mixed picture if you travel further out. A peak Zone 1-6 tube journey rises precisely 4.2% in the peak and 3.5% off-peak. But had this been a Zone 2-6 journey the increase would have been as much as 7.1%. This variety of percentage increases is because TfL insist on raising rail fares by multiples of tenpence, even though they could raise them by unrounded amounts now almost everybody pays electronically. It might sound unfair, and some passengers will bear the burden much more than others, but over the entire portfolio it averages out to 4.2% overall. Apart from the next bit.

Cost of a (free) 29 minute Cycle Hire journey
24 hour access£1£1£1£2
Weekly access£5£5£5£10
Annual access£45£45£45£90

Bike hire users, your time is up. You've enjoyed rock bottom prices for a couple of years to get the project underway, but in January a major price hike kicks in. Your increase isn't 4.2%, it's 100%, although that's not a figure you'll see written in any TfL press release. It'll still be free to nip across town for up to 30 minutes, but the daily access charge will double from £1 to £2. That's 60p more than the cost of a bus ride, and only fractionally less than an off-peak tube fare. Will quite so many people choose to take a single bike ride in 2013, let alone stump up £90 for full annual access? And how come the sponsors aren't paying more to keep the public's contribution down?

If London's to have a better transport network, then fares do have to rise. That'll be cold comfort if your pay's been frozen or your benefits cut, and maybe more could have been done to keep these increases down. But if we're all to get around town in the future, the annual fare rise charade will go on.

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