Thursday, 10 December 2015

As fares are set to rise, LU breaks the record again for busiest day

TFL has issued a press release about London Underground breaking their record again for carrying a whopping 4.821 million passengers!

Figures released today by Transport for London (TfL) show that October's record for the number of customer journeys made on the Tube in one day has been broken again.

On Friday 4 December 2015, 4.821 million customers travelled on the Tube making it the network's busiest day ever.

That week was also the busiest in the Tube's history with 28.76 million journeys, beating the previous record of 28.69 million journeys set in the week ending 31 October. In addition, 18 of the top 20 busiest days ever recorded on the Tube network are in 2015.

The daily and weekly records have been broken this year and TfL expects them to be broken again before the end of 2015. Overall, the number of customer journeys on the Tube has risen by a third since 2001, with the rate of growth increasing in the last five years.

Nick Brown, LU's Managing Director, said: `The Tube continues to break records for the number of customers we're carrying as London's economy and population keeps on growing. The vast majority of the busiest days in the Tube's 152-year history have been recorded this year.

London is growing faster than any other European city. Its population of 8.6 million today will become nine million by 2018, and 10 million by 2030. The city's public transport and road networks need steady and sustained investment to enable productive growth and the creation of the new jobs and housing the city needs.

The top five busiest days on the London Underground were:

·         4 December (4.821 million)
·         27 November 2015 (4.795 million)
·         9 October 2015 (4.735 million)
·         28 November 2014 (4.734 million)
·         29 October 2015 (4.719 million
LU has reduced its operating cost per passenger kilometre, driven down the unit costs for maintenance, and invests every penny of public money into improving the network as London's population continues to rise.

Recent years have seen major improvements made across the board, with customer satisfaction rising to its highest ever level, capacity at record levels thanks to new trains and signalling systems, and more than 1.3 billion customer journeys now made each year.

I wrote in my previous articlethat TFL’s fares are set to rise again, but it’s mostly Pay As You Go price caps for Oyster and Contactless Bank Cards. Zone 1-6 price cap will rise by 10p from £11.70 to £11.80 by January 2nd 2016.

London Councils, a local government association that represents Londons 32 borough councils and the City of London has raised concerns about fare rises affecting low paid workers.

Travel costs hitting outer Londons low-paid workers

Londons low-paid workers, already struggling with high housing and living costs in the capital, are being disproportionately affected by rising transport costs according to a new report.

The report Living on the Edge was commissioned by London Councils, London TravelWatch and Trust for London and reveals the group of Londoners most affected by the rising cost of travel and the overheated property market. This group is excluded from central London due to the high cost of housing, but still commute to low-paid cleaning jobs and manual work in hotels and offices located in Zone 1.

The report also found that travel costs are a problem for all Londoners, with one in five London workers choosing the cheapest route to work rather than the shortest or most convenient in outer London this equates to around 145,000 people while around the same number make sacrifices in other areas of their expenditure to pay for travel.

The findings also show that there is a lack of knowledge about the transport discounts available to part-time workers and jobseekers. The report makes a number of recommendations on how to help those struggling with travel costs.

Cllr Julian Bell, Chair of London Councils Transport and Environment Committee, said: On average, Londoners spend around seven per cent of their monthly earnings on travel to work but low earners are spending almost 10 per cent (1). Combined with housing and living costs the odds are increasingly stacked against people on lower incomes.

This report raises real concerns over how the quality of life of many thousands of Londoners is affected by the cost of travel. People have no choice but to put up with high travel costs if they want to access the jobs available in central London, but the cost of travel is the same if youre earning £15K or £50K a year.

Whats clear is that more needs to be done to inform low-paid and unemployed people of the travel discounts available to them currently and look at what can be done for this group.

The average London worker needs to work for 44 minutes per day to pay for daily commuting costs this increases sharply to 54 minutes for those earning £200 to £599 per month and 1 hour 56 minutes for those earning less than £200 per month.

Stephen Locke, Chair of London TravelWatch, said: Public transport is a vital service for most Londoners, and especially for people travelling to work.  Many low-paid workers are now commuting long distances and spending a high proportion of their incomes in the process. While there are no easy answers to this problem, we hope this report will help to open up the debate on this important issue.

The research found the average London worker spends around £100 a month on travel, equivalent to 7.3 per cent of their monthly earnings. Higher earners spend 6.8 per cent, while lower earning spend 9.2 per cent.

Recommendations in the report include:
·         introducing a concessionary fare for low-income workers
·         improving awareness of existing discounts
·         making it easier to obtain season ticket loans
·         reintroducing off-peak Travelcards to benefit flexible work schedules
·         encouraging employers to cover travel costs to interviews for low-paid jobs

The research was conducted by BDRC Continental, commissioned by London Councils, London Travel Watch and Trust for London.

With season ticket loans, I found out about a company called Commuter Club; they are a financial service and they claim to offer prices for an annual Travelcard cheaper than TFL provide. This scheme is not run by the government or any authority as Commuter Club is a private company. You can see more on their FAQ page.

In the Republic of Ireland, the CIÉ (Córas Iompair Éireann) runs a scheme called TaxSaver where the employer can get tax free monthly annual tickets to provide to their employees which saves businesses' thousands of Euros. Perhaps TFL and the government should take a look at the scheme which will help employers as well as their employees.

The above is mostly aimed at full time workers, but usually low income workers are part time.

Off-Peak Travelcards cost more than the daily price cap and if the Travelcards go down it would mean that TFL would need to reintroduce the off peak price cap which could cause the anytime price cap to rise again.

What I will say is that just like with most public transport systems around the world, they provide cheaper fares because the system relies on subsidies provided by the government. The main purpose of the transport system is to enable people to travel to places which in turn, benefits the economy, thats what some transport systems in various countries recognise.

No matter how many passengers use the transport system, it generates more income for the transport system and increased profits for their operating companies which they contract out to.

This is not a London problem, many transport systems around the world are raising their fares. Greater London is a big region, fares could be restructured to make them cheaper and benefit local people commuting in their local area. Take a look at the bus fare map from year 2002.

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Image Attribution
"Busy Central line platform at Oxford Circus tube station". Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons -

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