Watchdog evidence about fares in London on 18/06/2009
London TravelWatch has said that the travelling public needed a period of stability and consistency when the Mayor and Transport for London (TfL) set fares, rather than the 'stop/start’ approach of increasing one year then decreasing them the next. It also warned that cash fares should not increase further to ensure value for money for London’s visitors and tourists.
London TravelWatch gave evidence to the London Assembly’s Budget and Performance Committee on the impact of the Mayor and TfL’s fares policy this morning (Thursday 18) at City Hall.
David Leibling, Chair of London TravelWatch’s Fares and Ticketing Committee, said: “London’s transport users have been subject to considerable change in fares and ticketing policies over the past ten years, subject to either huge increases in fares or fares freezes. This inconsistency is confusing and unsettling for passengers.
“We are also concerned that bus fares remain affordable. Buses are the most commonly used form of transport in the capital (except walking) and high fares are more likely to disproportionately affect the most disadvantaged parts of society.”
London TravelWatch’s conclusions in full were as follows:
• TfL should recognise that users have had a sustained period of change in the mix and level of fares on the network in the past few years and that users would like to have a period of stability and consistency of fares rather than a 'start/stop’ approach of fare increases, followed by a decrease and then an increase, and/or changes to the eligibility for concessionary fares.
• TfL should consider keeping cash fares at present levels in order to improve London’s 'value for money’ for visitors and tourists.
• TfL could consider whether Oyster Pay As You Go fares need to be set at 5p or 10p gradations, or could be set at other combinations so as to limit percentage increases in cost to the user.
• TfL should maximise its potential income from existing sources, by reducing the potential for fraud, increasing the attractiveness of its’ services, marketing these and maximising service availability where this can be done at little or no extra cost.
• TfL should not be required to reduce expenditure where this would have the effect of reducing income by either making services unattractive, unreliable or potentially unsafe.
• TfL should conduct customer satisfaction surveys across all modes to measure the public’s perception of 'value for money’, and seek to improve on the current position, bearing in mind the link to service levels in terms of quantity and frequency.
• TfL when making a decision on fare levels and budget spending should take account of the fact that buses are the most commonly used mode (apart from walking), and that changes here are most likely the most disadvantaged parts of society.
• The Mayor should review some political decisions such as the replacement of articulated buses with conventional ones at higher costs and to scrap the Western Extension of the Congestion Charge where this would reduce TfL’s income or increase its costs.
• The Mayor should not seek to reduce National Rail services in London as a means of obtaining additional grant aid.
• TfL should not assume that because they have been able to implement some substantial increases in fares without apparent reduction in demand in recent years that they would be able to do likewise to close any gap in their budget, given the changed general economic circumstances
• TfL and the Mayor in setting fares and their budget should seek to avoid a vicious circle of decline resulting from reduced income, followed by reduced service levels, which in turn reduces income again.
The voice of London's transport users
18 June 2009