Real-term freeze? New transport fares announced


The Mayor has announced (what he is referring to as) a real-term freeze in transport fares for the next year. Of course, a real-term freeze doesn't mean that what cost £1 today will do so tomorrow - it actually equates to a rise of around 3.1%. And that figure rises to over 4% for season tickets. The FT has the facts:

The daily cap on Oyster pay-as-you-go fares on buses and the tube will be frozen at 2013 prices, whilst an annual tube season ticket covering six underground zones will rise 4.3 per cent to £2,320.

The Transport for London business plan assumes fares will increase by RPI plus one per cent each year, in-line with the same formula used to determine mainline fares. However, in London the final decision on fares is taken by the mayor.

Weekly, monthly and annual travel cards, which include National Rail as well as TfL services, will rise by an average of 4.1 per cent.

As ever, LondonReconnections breaks down what these rises mean across various modes of transport in an excellent guide.

I suppose that we should expect now that when a politician says 'real-term freeze' that the figures behind them may actually suggest something else. Dave Hill has a must-read article on the subject in The Guardian. Of course, the Mayor isn't the only one to play this game - but it adds to cynicism against politics more generally and makes one wonder whether the resultant headlines mean that the packaging of the announcement this way actually has any value.

Nonetheless, this is a good effort by the Mayor, propped up, as Tom Edwards notes, by a rise in passenger numbers and only budgeted for one year. 2014/15 will see a return to rises which are difficult to hide (and which shouldn't be). TfL faces a 25% cut in its funding from Government - it would be a brave, and honest, Mayor who acknowledged that difficult decisions needed to be taken and involved Londoners in them. After all, this is our transport network.