diamond geezer

 Thursday, January 28, 2016

There are of course complications.
busbusbustube

If you ride three buses and then a tube, on Pay As You Go, then the tube does not come free. A completely separate cap kicks in as soon as you travel on something that isn't a bus or a tram, and that's much higher. How much higher depends on what time of day it is, and which zones you travel in.

If your tube journey stays inside zones 1 and 2, then this combination
busbusbustube
costs £6.50 off-peak. It ought to cost £6.90 (three £1.50 bus fares plus £2.40 on the tube). But the Z1-2 daily cap kicks in at £6.50, so £6.50 is all you pay, a saving of 40p.

And once the daily cap's kicked in, so long as you stay within zones 1 and 2 you can ride as much as you like for nothing. That's
busbusbustubetubetubetubetubetubetube

Or
tubetubetubetubetubetubetubetubetubetube

Or even
tubetubetubetubebustubeDLRbusovertube
all for £6.50.

If your tube journeys are at peak times between zones 1 and 6 there's a higher cap, but it kicks in even quicker.
tubetubetubetubetubetubetubetubetubetube

But if your tube journeys lie entirely inside zones 5 and 6, then things are rather different.
tubetubetubetubetubetubetubetubetubetube
Tube fares within zones 5 and 6 cost only £1.70 at peak times, but the daily cap for journeys including zone 6 is a massive £11.80, so it takes seven trips before you hit the cap.

Off-peak in zones 5 and 6 it's even worse.
tubetubetubetubetubetubetubetubetubetube
Any two-zone tube journey outside zone 1 costs just £1.50 off-peak, so here it takes eight trips before you hit the cap. Back in zones 1 and 2, it took only three.

Doing a lot of travelling around the outer zones is expensive because the daily cap is high - you're charged as if you'd been to zone 1. But doing a lot of travel around the inner zones is relatively inexpensive because the daily cap is low - you're not charged as if you'd been to zone 6. TfL's capping policy advantages those who live in inner London and stay there, and disadvantages those who live in outer London and stay there. How fair, or otherwise, is that?

Of perhaps more long-term importance, as we've seen, TfL's capping policy is bloody complicated. Travellers using Pay As You Go now generally travel around town without seeing how much each part of their journey costs, instead simply trusting TfL to tot it all up later. We're increasingly moving towards a fare system so complex that it's become a magic black box, deducting one single payment from your account at the end of the day, without you ever needing to know how that total was calculated.

We may not understand how much
08.26 Z4→1
tube
09.23
bus
10.05 Z2→3
tube
13.41 Z3→8
rail
16.18 Z8→4
tube
costs, but there's a computer that does, and all we have to do is let the money flow away.


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