You've likely seen this poster at tube stations. It's the go-to poster of the month, often appearing several times on the same platform.
But the slogan has been bothering me.
Pay as you go single fares... are frozen until 2020
Why say 2020 when you could say 2021?
Of course fares are frozen until 2020, because it's 2020 now. Even when the poster dribbled out at the very end of last year there were only days to go, so the claim was almost meaningless. It's just such an odd slogan to plaster everywhere.
Normally fares change on 2nd January, so the next update ought to be on 2nd January 2021, which'd mean fares are frozen until 2021. But the poster doesn't say that, it says 2020. What might be going on?
Maybe (bureaucracy theory) posters aren't allowed to make claims extending beyond the next Mayoral election.
Maybe (simplicity theory) the slogan merely refers to the the 2020 fare settlement, a TfL fare freeze.
Maybe (conspiracy theory) fares are secretly planned to rise later this year, before 2021.
Maybe (mediocrity theory) the slogan's just not been very well thought through.
The official TfL January 2020 fares leaflet doesn't make this claim. It says 'Fares frozen 4 years running' on the cover and 'frozen for the fourth year in a row' inside. This is true, TfL fares didn't rise in January 2017, January 2018, January 2019 or January 2020.
The Fares Freeze page on the TfL website simply states 'Fares frozen from January 2020'. Meanwhile the press release issued on New Year's Eve is clear that 'All fares set by the Mayor remain frozen during 2020', suggesting they're frozen until 2021.
Fares do need to go up at some point, and will, ending a rare period of debatable austerity. But 'fares are frozen until 2020' is just such an odd thing to say. I'm sure there's a rational explanation.