diamond geezer

 Wednesday, December 04, 2013

At last the Mayor has made the annual announcement on tube/bus fare rises. He may not know how much a tube fare costs, nor understand the fare tables he signed off, but let's not hold his low IQ against him.

This year's average price rise is 3.1%, which isn't the "freeze" some have claimed, but is definitely less than last year's 4.2%, which was itself much lower than the 7% increase the year before. Here are a few of 2014's 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 4.8% in January to a new high of £2.20. Pessimists will note that this is 47% higher than when Boris came to power. Optimists, however, should note that it's still only 38% higher than a decade ago. Meanwhile anyone paying by cash continues to be screwed, as TfL try ever harder to persuade people not to pay by cash.

Cost of a single central London bus journey

The pay-as-you-go bus fare rises by 3.6% in January. It's more than doubled over the last ten years, with the great majority of that increase occurring on Boris's watch. Meanwhile the cash fare doesn't rise at all, but that's probably because TfL will be scrapping cash fares on the buses next summer, probably.

Cost of a tube journey from Green Park to Heathrow
Oyster (peak)£3.50£3.80£4.20£4.50£4.80£5.00£5.00
Oyster (off-peak)£2.00£2.20£2.40£2.70£2.90£3.00£3.00

It's a better picture if you travel further out. Oyster fares for tube journeys outside Zone 1 won't be rising, which is excellent news if that's the journey you make every day. But that's only on Pay As You Go. It's bad news if you plan to buy a weekly, monthly or annual travelcard because these prices will be increasing in line with National Rail fares (which is +4.1%), not TfL fares (which is +3.1%).

Next year's fare announcement includes yet another nail in the coffin of the paper Travelcard. There used to be six of these (Z1-2, Z1-3, Z1-4, Z1-5, Z1-6 and Z2-6), until three years ago when the Z1-3, Z1-5 and Z2-6 were discontinued. Now the Z1-2 and Z1-4 are disappearing, off-peak, which means that weekend visitors to London will only have the option of the most expensive Z1-6. Expect further retirements in years to come as TfL try to shift everyone over to Oyster and its "one day caps", because that's much cheaper for them to collect.

How do these fare changes affect TfL's revenue in 2014?
Cash single-+£4m+£0.3m+£4m
PAYG fares+£23m+£23m+£2m+£48m
PAYG cap freeze-£10m-£5m-£1m-£16m
Season tickets+£24m+£33m+£5m+£63m

If London's to have a better transport network then fares do have to rise, and the table above shows how this will be achieved. Increasing bus cash fares will add £4m to TfL's coffers next year, while increases to Pay As You Go add a much more significant £48m. Freezing PAYG caps will actually benefit passengers to the tune of £16m, whereas Travelcard users will end up forking out an extra £15m. Throw in a massive £63m boost from season ticket holders and the total increase in TfL's revenue is £115m, which is precisely 3.1%.

Cost of a single cablecar journey
Regular user£1.60£1.60£1.60

And what do you do with a cablecar that doesn't have many users? You put the fares up, obviously... the first fare rise since the thing opened back in summer 2012. But on the bright side, hurrah, the fare for the cablecar's four regular commuters remains unchanged. I'm sure Rory, Peter, June and the other one will be very pleased.

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