For the vast majority of Imperial College Students, who study in London but don't live on Campus, don't cycle, and don't have a personal taxi account, public transport is key to getting about the city. Unless you have a stash of saver tickets or an annual travel card, you're going to have to stump up more than ever in the New Year.
From 2 January 2005, the Mayor claims to be increasing tube fares by 1% above inflation, and bus fares by 10% above inflation. In reality the fare rises are more like 10% on the tube and 20% on the buses. Here are some of the "highlights" of the increases which are likely to affect Students:
- A Zone 1 single on the tube will still cost £2.00.
- A single bus journey will now cost £1.20 (up 20p from £1.00).
- An off peak day Travel Card will cost £4.70 (up 40p from £4.30).
- A day bus pass will cost £3.00 (up 50p from £2.50).
- A Zone 1/2 Weekly Travel Card will cost £18.50 (up £1.50 from £17.00).
- A Weekly Bus Pass will cost £11.00 (up £1.50 from £9.50), although weekly fares will still be eligible for 30% student discount with the TfL photocard.
But that's not all! The true cost of these increases will be felt in the confusion and complication which the new fare regime will introduce. Discounts are offered to users of the Oyster PrePay system, which will give 40p discounts on bus fares. The discount to Oyster users on the Tube will vary based on the time of day, with new peak fares introduced between 6.30am and 7.00pm (Mon-Fri), resulting in three different prices for every tube ticket. To top off the confusion, the Mayor has bundled the traditional 6 tube zones into groups which will have the effect of combining zones 3 and 4, and then zones 5 and 6... stopping just short of renaming the zones.
In a well orchestrated PR exercise, the public was first alerted to the idea of fare increases about six months ago, before they were officially confirmed three months ago. Ken Livingstone attempted to justify this move, claiming that:
"In my first term we carried through the transformation of London’s bus services. In the second we will start the improvement of the Tube and the investment programmes necessary to give London a 21st Century transport system.
"That requires making tough choices now to seize the once-in-a-generation opportunity we have been given to invest nearly £3bn over the next five years. If we want to make that investment we will need to raise fares now to help meet the costs of servicing the additional debt."
From another point of view, passengers might feel that they are now paying for the introduction of the Oyster Card payment system, the replacement of the Routemaster buses, introduction of Bendy-Buses, extended depots to house the Bendy-Buses and the increased fare evasion on Bendy-Buses ... not to mention funding of the failing private firms now running the Tube.
When I started my degree course four years ago a single tube ticket cost me £1.50 and my weekly bus pass cost me £5.30. That's going to be £2.00 and £7.70 now...
Happy New Year, Ken!