Watchdog calls for part time season tickets to help commuters back to work

18 August 2020

As commuters await this week’s announcement about how much rail fares will rise in January 2021, London’s transport watchdog has called for an overhaul of the out of date fares system to stop the current season ticket lottery and recognise the changing needs of commuters, many of whom no longer need to travel into London every day. Business group, London First has added to the watchdog’s calls for change.

London TravelWatch is calling for three changes to support people commuting into London:

  1. Part time season tickets London TravelWatch’s work with Transport Focus during the current pandemic has shown that the world of work is changing, with 49% expecting their job will be home-based in the future, rising to 54% in London*. Part time season tickets and carnets are going to be needed to encourage cash-strapped commuters back onto the trains.
  2. Fares capping TfL are able to use fares caps to help part time bus and Tube workers using Oyster/Contactless by guaranteeing that they will pay no more in a day than a fifth of the cost of a seven day Travelcard ticket. London TravelWatch wants commuters into London to benefit from this kind of capping too.
  3. End unfair season ticket prices For some years, London TravelWatch has highlighted how unfair season ticket prices can be, with people commuting into London from places like Hemel Hempstead in Hertfordshire paying up to £35 a week more** than those travelling a similar distance from Oxted in Surrey.

London TravelWatch Director, Emma Gibson commented: ‘This year we have a once in a generation opportunity for the Government to fix the broken fares system and properly recognise  the needs of part time workers or those who no longer commute into the office five days a week. We know some operators have already introduced carnets and flexible ticketing but more needs to be done as millions of passengers are currently missing out.’

Emma continued: ‘Not only are some people paying up to £35 a week more to travel into London than others travelling a similar distance, towns like Hemel Hempstead, with some of the worst affected commuters, also have some of the highest rates of people moving onto Universal Credit since the coronavirus lockdown began. Now the Government is effectively in charge of train operators it has a unique opportunity to act to make fares fairer and ensure that they work for passengers.’

Programme Director for Transport at London First, Adam Tyndall, said: ‘All options for boosting London’s post-Covid economic recovery should be on the table and allowing greater innovation in train ticketing could help to encourage people back into the capital for both work and leisure. The need for wholesale reform of rail fares has not diminished as a result of the pandemic, but we need to be honest about the solutions that will be viable in the new normal. A new fares structure must work for commuters across the South East and ensure that our railways receive enough funding to run safely, invest in modernisation, and support the shift to sustainable travel.’

Further information

  • London TravelWatch is the operating name for the London Transport Users Committee. We are the official watchdog representing the interests of transport users in and around London, and independent of the transport operators and government. London TravelWatch is sponsored and funded by the London Assembly, part of the Greater London Authority.
  • *The figures are included in the results of Transport Focus’ recent omnibus survey carried on 8/9 August.
  • **The worst example of this is the difference between a weekly season ticket from Hemel Hempstead in Hertfordshire (21 miles) which costs £95.50 and the same ticket from Oxted in Surrey (20 miles) which costs £60.50.
  • For more information, please contact the London TravelWatch press office on 020 3176 5941 or 07734 055494.
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