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This article is an opinion piece and should be taken as such. It is highly likely to be biased, but either the article itself or the ensuing discussion will probably be entertaining. Live! takes no editorial line on opinion pieces.

A (not so) Happy New Year for Bus and Tube Fares!

Dec 27 2004 20:31
Simon Rawson
They may have called off the New Year's Eve strike, but Ken's ticket machines are waiting to take more money than ever off you when you return in the New Year!
South Kensington Tube Station... so many fond memories...

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!

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Discussion about “A (not so) Happy New Year for Bus and Tube Fares!”

The comments below are unmoderated submissions by Live! readers. The Editor accepts no liability for their content, nor for any offence caused by them. Any complaints should be directed to the Editor.
1. C!   
Dec 27 2004 22:48

1. You say a Z1/2 week travelcard will cost ?18.50 instead of ?17. That should read a Z1 week travelcard (A Z1/2 costs ?20.20 at the moment)

2. Don't forget to buy the rest of the terms travelcard in the next few days because the price increases are on tickets bought on or after the 2nd Jan so if you buy a 6 month travelcard today it is at this years rate

2. C!   
Dec 27 2004 22:49

And don't every buy a bus pass if you are only making two journeys by bus per day

Dec 28 2004 12:53

But remember, if you buy your ticket in the next few days, it must start ON OR BEFORE 1ST JAN to take advantage of 2004 fares.

4. C!   
Dec 28 2004 14:42


Read the board at the tube stations... Buy the ticket before the 2nd of Jan, as long as you don't buy it online, you get the current price

Dec 28 2004 15:02

Ah, I was reading online information. Haven't been near a tube station for a couple of weeks!

6. n/a   
Dec 29 2004 21:16

Actually, I'm a fan of Ken Livingstone.

When I started my degree in London, a bus day pass was ?3.30, night buses were about as rare as a blue rump steak in a restaurant, and it took 20 minutes to get around Picadilly Circus in a bus.

Then they lowered bus day tickets to an unbelievably good value ?2 (the price of two single journeys), upped the number of nightbuses (and bus lines), introduced the congestion charge, and the time to drive around Picadilly Circus in a bus dropped by half.

So the prices are going back up. Well, the value has increased enormously in the mean time, which means buses are now better value for money than they used to be before he took office.

As for the tube - it's always been expensive. The reason why it's expensive is simple: It's running at maximum capacity, and just about meeting demand. So it can afford to hike up prices, since demand is much less price-sensitive than anywhere else. If they manage to improve the tube lines as much as they did buses, all the better. Personally, I think the only improvement would be to scrap the entire thing and start fresh, but that's way beyond the kind of money they will ever be able to afford...

Dec 30 2004 01:45

I wonder how much money was wasted on those plasma screens they have on the upper deck of some buses. None of them work properly.

Jan 07 2005 18:00

Did a zone 2&3 journey the other day and was overcharged 20p on my Oyster because they have updated the prices wrong. They will only refund via a cheque. How c**p is that!!

9. Nia   
Jan 09 2005 15:20

"passengers might feel that they are now paying for the introduction of the Oyster Card payment system,"

I like the Oyster card system. It's more convenient and reduces queues for tickets. I'm quite happy to pay for it, and yes of course it's going to be me who pays for it (either as passenger or tax payer) - who else would or indeed should?

"the replacement of the Routemaster buses, introduction of Bendy-Buses,"

We need bendy buses to enable disabled people to use them. I think it my civic duty to contribute towards helping those less fortunate than I (in certain specific respects) live happier lives.

Things cost money, that's just the way it is. You can't have a transport system without paying for it.

10. amram   
Jan 09 2005 19:58

I am back.

Bendy buses increase congestion, are dangerous, have much less capacity than doubledekkers and are a waste of money. The Congestion charge is a Poll Tax that only allows rich people to drive there cars (a findamental human right) to get from a to b. The service on the tube has got worse, but the prices have gone up. The Buses have got worse- they have phased out the routemasters, which were convenient (one could get off and on when one wanted and not only at stops- allowing one to jump on a bust at a redlight or get off the bus if it passes nearer one's house) and this was to save money by sacking the conductors salaries. So they saved money? NO. Have the prices stayed the same- No? OK well maybe they have gone up in line with inflation- NO NO NO!!!!! Of course not!! The single bus fare has gone up from ?1.00 to ?1.20- that is right an increase of 20 percent- or to be precise 5 times the rate of inflation!!! . Is Herr Ken , the nazi intereseted in the people? Of course not? If he is not travelling in his congestion- charge exempt limo, he is busy planning the next waste of money- the Olympics ( a waste of money that could be used to improve london's tubes and buses and finally put in some air con).

But is this surprising from a man who meets with Arab nazis- like Qaradawi ( a man who weekly exhorts his followers on Al Jazeera to kill "Gays, Jews and Infidels") or when he is busy in his latest propaganda stunt- like the fireworks....

Bread and circuses....

Jan 10 2005 09:44


I think Amnesty may have a different (and more correct) view of what fundamental human rights are.

5 times the rate of inflation? So you mean that when the price of a central london bus ticket is increased for the first time since the one pound flat fare was introduced five years ago, it goes up by 5 times the rate of inflation. The maths isn't exact but if you do compound inflation on a pound from 5 years ago, you end up with ?1.21. Stop whingeing, you're still up on the deal, even if only by a penny!

12. n/a   
Jan 10 2005 12:39

Why is it that some assholes always try to drag completely unrelated discussions into the religious-war muck?

13. amram   
Jan 11 2005 14:22

n/a you tell me.

As to the price war- the pound fare has not been around for 5 years- less than 3 in fact- check for yourself. Indeed previously such journeys cost only 70 pence.

Another point to mention is the stupid machines used in zone 1 to buy tickets. They accept exact change only!! In the socialist republic of london one must have the exact change or tough. No freedom, no convenience, no care for the simple people, if you don;t fit the state's criteterion, don;t meet its overbureaucratic demands well then it is you that is screwed! This perhaps might have been a bit more reasonable when the price was a pound ( an argument, although poor, could have been made that said this requires one coin only and is a nice round number) but now that the fare is ?1.20 this is simply unacceptable.

And as to congestion decreasing in the congestion charge area- that is only because the redlights have been restored to their original, shorter, time-spans. Red-blood, terrorist loving Ken, increased the time that the lights were on red in the WHOLE of London and then changed them back after he introduced the poll tax BUT only in the congestion charge area. Congestion has also increased due to deliberate policies to narrow roads by making ridiculous indentations in pavements as well as more islands and unnecessary roundabouts) . Ken's war on the motorist is typical of tyrannical socialist regimes. In Albania, all the roads were well paved and congestion was nonexistant since the only people who could afford to drive were the government and their apparatchiks!!!!!

14. Sciv   
Jan 11 2005 14:48

Ken has really started a war on Londons general public to scare people into voting for him in the future; he plans to take over the UK and create a United Europe.

It's completely true that the worlds most powerful tyrantes have started in similar ways: Bin Laden would often let down peoples car tyres when he was younger, Hitler stopped tube stations from accepting notes in Jewish areas and Stalin would hit cyclists with his hand-bag.

Bloody tyrantes and thier regimes!

Jan 11 2005 16:16

Amram, you are factually incorrect once again yawn yawn! It used to cost 70 pence for a journey around the outer zone and one pound for a journey in or though the central zone. You may recall (if you were actually in London at the time) the fried egg diagram that used to advertise this with the pound being the yoke etc. This was introdcued in 2000. Previously the fare of the journey varied on this distance you were travelling and a single journey could cost more than ?1.60. And that was pre 2000. So, really, stop your blabering about prices: you're wrong!

The machines can be a pain, yes, with their crazy exact change only. But, actually, I would say that the buses are the most reliable I've ever seen them in the 19 years I've lived in Central London on and off, facilitated by shorter routes, more routes, a few more buses and less congestion through the centre of London. You'll not find many bus routes in the rest of the country where you can get on and pay ?1.20 and travel from the start of the route to the finish. Not in Newcastle, not in Basildon, not in Cambridge and I doubt in many other places. You certainly can't get a day pass for ?2.50 that will let you travel on any bus for any distance all within the same day in any of those places either.

Plenty of buses pre 2000 also used to take exact change only (before Ken was in London). I think even simple people, as you put it, can cope with enough change for bus fare. Don't be so patronising!

16. BusTed   
Jan 11 2005 22:27

Flat fare in Brighton is now ?1.30, with a day pass costing ?2.70, and the night buses there don't compare to those in London. Last buses are at 23.30 ish with two ?2.50 night buses on Fridays and Saturdays.

Stop whinging and learn how to use an apostrophe: it's still good value for money.

Jan 12 2005 10:50

Take the example of Edinburgh where fares are not flat but vary between 40p and ?1.20 per journey. In this city there is genuine competition on routes with more than one bus company allowed to run a route.

18. Ruth   
Jan 12 2005 13:10

London buses are definitely better value than buses in Cardiff. To get into the centre of Cardiff from my parents' house (a 15/20 min journey in the car) costs ?1.60 on one bus company (who only come once an hour) and ?1.70 on the other (who come about twice an hour).

A day bus pass is ?3.50 on one bus company and I don't think you can get one on the other.

The only night buses serve zone 1 only (so about a mile radius of the city centre where very few people live).

Student discounts only apply to 16-19 year olds going to and from college.

So, by comparison, the London buses are wonderful!

Closed This discussion is closed.

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