Can people not afford to commute to work?

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Bletchleyite

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Thats very true but where do you then park your car?
If we had any sense (like Germany does) any new development would have ample underground car parking. To be fair sometimes this does happen - the newish Sainsburys, and the new Morrisons, in Central Milton Keynes, both do.

Then you attract people onto public transport by it being affordable and of high quality...oops, we failed there, didn't we?

Neil
 

Feathers44

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I could commute by rail but the expense would be so much higher and the timings more inflexible than the current drive that it just isn't worth it.

I say this with some annoyance because I had a nice walk to work running for 15 years before the company decided to shut my site and move us all 25 miles away. Yes I kept the job and bought a car and started to drive but that was a considered move to hang onto my pension rights etc for as long as I possibly can. (I didn't move locally to the new office as it seemed somewhat selfish to disrupt the lives of the four other members of the family just so I could be more comfortable).

If I had to move to a public transport commute, could I afford to double my travel costs? Proably not - at that point I'd have to consider my options elsewhere.

Equally, however, when the car eventually gives up, I can't afford a new one of those either :)
 
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Goatboy

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I've not been posting on here much lately. Sadly the majority of the reason is that I just don't travel by train as much anymore. I want to - I enjoy travelling by rail - but on my regular journey to the Midlands even with petrol prices much higher than they are now I was making the choice to use the train knowing it cost a little more than using my car.

But now the cost of going by train is twice that of using my car I can't justify it. The train takes 2 hours longer too (Which is fine, but less fine when the cost differential is so huge).

I wonder how many others are in the same situation? Quite a few I'd have thought have stopped using rail now and moved to road. I hung on longer than most would because I'm a rail enthusiast.

I'll still use the train where it represents good value - advance tickets to London for example and many local journeys in the South West but as my most regularly used route is priced by Cross Country I'm stuck really.

I can't help but think there is something wrong with a fare system that allows somebody to drive on their own in a private car for significantly less money than using public transport. How are we ever going to get people out of cars and onto public transport?
 
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MikeWh

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But parking them in the sidings rather than using them saves the TOCs lots of money. The TOCs choose to park them up.
Because there is no demand for a 12 coach train every 10 minutes during the off peak, the TOCs still need to pay the leasing charges for the stock regardless of whether they use them or not, the only things they save is the track access, maintenance and mileage charges etc, subject to the type of lease the trains are on.
The reason for your lack of empathy can be illustrated quite well by the way you ignored the rest of the post you quoted. It's true that not all the stock is needed outside the peaks, but the TOCs often get it wrong and withdraw too much.

There's a reason, I'm sure, why London Midland's off-peak trains are usually 4-car even where- as in the case of the Tring stoppers- during the evening and at weekends these trains are usually full-and-standing.
 
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I assume that was either part time or the journey was something nonsensical like from Manchester to London, otherwise that would be illegal - well below the minimum wage.

Neil
it was part time, 16 hours a week, Milton Keynes to Watford (IIRC), for minimum wage, and the train was the only reasonable way that we could find. the job centre didn't care when my friend told them, all they were interested in was getting them off jobseekers.
 
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A few journalists have said that some people can no longer afford to commute to work due to the fare increases. Anyone in the same boat?
They can always take the car instead, however they will be back within weeks as more often than not the train is still cheaper

One thing these people don't realise is that petrol prices have been increasing in recent years , they don't moan about that
 

Flamingo

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Commuting = cost = time = benefit

There hits a point where the equation gets skewed that one of them end up being too much, or the benefit is not worth the hassle. This has nothing much to do with the cost per se - I can travel for free by train, but would I accept a job in Paddington, knowing it would mean five-six hours on a train five days a week? Hell no!

Cost is only one of the factors, but if somebody feels they can't afford either the time or the cost of getting to that job, then it may be time to review their CV and start looking in a smaller radius from home.

London is a big centre of employment, but not everything is in the middle of London, there are plenty of job opportunities in the South East.

The cost of train travel is already subsidised, and TOC's spend a lot of their time hauling empty seats around to have the capacity to handle the peak commuter travellers. It has been decided by successive governments that the cost of this should be bourne by those using the services, and the decision to increase the fares is a political decision whatever way it is looked at.
 

radamfi

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There is increasing evidence that young people are less interested in driving and getting a car compared to previous generations. This is happening throughout the developed world. Young people are choosing urban living over car dependent suburban areas and are therefore more captive to public transport. This is causing increased demand for railways regardless of fare levels, and as we know railway systems are being expanded to try and cater for extra passengers.
 

GodAtum

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A uni friend is a civil servant who worked in London. Unfortunately his role moved to Milton Keynes, Due to various reasons, he was not able to move from his house in Gatwick.
 

Tetchytyke

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I assume that was either part time or the journey was something nonsensical like from Manchester to London, otherwise that would be illegal - well below the minimum wage.
It depends on what the job is. The legal minimum wage can, in some situations, be as low as £2.73 an hour.

Clip said:
Thats very true but where do you then park your car?
Most people will park their car right outside their employer's property.

Because there is no demand for a 12 coach train every 10 minutes during the off peak, the TOCs still need to pay the leasing charges for the stock regardless of whether they use them or not, the only things they save is the track access, maintenance and mileage charges etc, subject to the type of lease the trains are on.
You've not answered my point. Nobody says there needs to be a "12 coach train every 10 minutes during the off peak"- although tellingly the off-peak service on Underground is barely different to the peak service- but the TOCs withdraw everything during the off-peak. I'm less likely to get a seat on a Saturday morning at 11am than I am on a Wednesday morning at 8am because London Midland think four carriages are plenty; the overcrowding on the Trent Valley is so bad that LM restrict off-peak tickets on a Saturday morning. Your TOC is the same. The stock could, and should, be used far more than it is, but it isn't. Why do we think that is?
 

Camden

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Commuting = cost = time = benefit

There hits a point where the equation gets skewed that one of them end up being too much, or the benefit is not worth the hassle. This has nothing much to do with the cost per se - I can travel for free by train, but would I accept a job in Paddington, knowing it would mean five-six hours on a train five days a week? Hell no!

Cost is only one of the factors, but if somebody feels they can't afford either the time or the cost of getting to that job, then it may be time to review their CV and start looking in a smaller radius from home.

London is a big centre of employment, but not everything is in the middle of London, there are plenty of job opportunities in the South East.

The cost of train travel is already subsidised, and TOC's spend a lot of their time hauling empty seats around to have the capacity to handle the peak commuter travellers. It has been decided by successive governments that the cost of this should be bourne by those using the services, and the decision to increase the fares is a political decision whatever way it is looked at.
And this is what I referred to my comments, where this debate when held is termed almost entirely along the lines of "work in the big city of London versus get a job local to home".

Most people in britain don't live in the South East but are still required to pay large sums of money in travel costs. I'd suggest that in the context of the original comment questioning whether people are not able to afford to travel to work, I believe there are a considerable and growing number of people for who it's not a case of having to revise their CV and look closer to home, but where the salary/opportunities on offer to them simply aren't accessible to them at all, that they are excluded from the job market separated from it by cost of access.

Take someone in Stoke on Trent, a city not especially renowned for its economic prowess. It's easy to imagine someone looking for a fairly average wage having to look outside the city to find a job.

From Stoke, it's £2,900 per year to Birmingham, £2,080 per year to Manchester, and a whopping £3,816 per year to Liverpool. I'd be amazed if anyone used the last one at that price, and they're all a real chunk out of an average salary.

As for ever finding a job closer to home for people in places like these, increasingly the government seems obsessed with concentrating efforts on a couple of the big cities in the north, further exacerbating the situation by promoting these as commercial centres above all others, making inward commuting even more inevitable for those in surrounding towns.

I'd suggest that not only can people not afford to commute to work, but increasingly they are being put in a position where they also can't afford not to. For people in this situation, "look closer to home" as a response to complaints about ever rising prices will I'm sure go down just as well as the infamous "get on your bike".
 
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Panda

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It's just the same story that gets recycled year after year after year. Every time when rail fare increases are announced, there's a big thing about it (this year when the announced increases were less than expected, some papers didn't even bother updating their standard, pre-written articles).

You can go back in history and every year, once when announced and once when implemented, there are the same stories of people being priced off the trains.

With people supposedly being priced off trains year on year, I find it surprising that the ORR keeps reporting growth in number of rail journeys in the UK and that passenger numbers keep breaking records.

Are people really being priced off trains or is it just a sensationalist way of reporting the inevitable annual fare increases?
 

Greenback

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I'm sure there will be some who find that a combination of low or non existent pay rises, increases in food costs, childcare costs and travel costs, now find it more difficult than ever to justify commuting to work by train.

When you add in other rises, such as utility bills, council tax and so on, it's hardly surprising to find that there a comes a point where something has to give.
 

aformeruser

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Possibly - I had assumed a rail commute.
You could easily have a commute consisting of:

Bus
Train
Bus

And then by the time you're making your return journey the operator of the last bus leg has changed from the daytime operator to the evening operator, meaning 4 different ticket types are required.
 

Panda

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I'm sure there will be some who find that a combination of low or non existent pay rises, increases in food costs, childcare costs and travel costs, now find it more difficult than ever to justify commuting to work by train.

When you add in other rises, such as utility bills, council tax and so on, it's hardly surprising to find that there a comes a point where something has to give.
Actually, the latest inflation figures will disagree with this summary. Council tax is frozen at many councils; utility bills have not increased in the last year (and one company actually just decreased their prices, waiting for the rest to follow); food is cheaper than a year ago.

I don't know anything about childcare costs...
 

Deerfold

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Actually, the latest inflation figures will disagree with this summary. Council tax is frozen at many councils; utility bills have not increased in the last year (and one company actually just decreased their prices, waiting for the rest to follow); food is cheaper than a year ago.

I don't know anything about childcare costs...
My council tax has gone up. My commute has gone up. My wage has not (and isn't looking like doing this April either). Unless inflation is now negative and I've missed that looks like the summary was fine.

When inflation was 5% in 2008 I got a pay rise of 6%. Result happiness.

Athough inflation is now much lower, I'm no longer getting a pay rise, never mind one higher than inflation.
 
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Greenback

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My wage has stayed the same for five years. Any rises of anything at all during this time will make it harder to make ends meet, regardless of the past year.

However, my TV licence. council tax, water, gas and electricity have all gone up in that time as well. As have rail fares. I think my insurance has gone down slightly, though, and my broadband and phone have stayed the same.
 

telstarbox

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With people supposedly being priced off trains year on year, I find it surprising that the ORR keeps reporting growth in number of rail journeys in the UK and that passenger numbers keep breaking records.
That's more likely to be due to growth in discretionary leisure travel - most people commute by train because it's the only option.
 

radamfi

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That's more likely to be due to growth in discretionary leisure travel - most people commute by train because it's the only option.
Isn't peak time travel increasing?

A while ago, I found a graph of average wages versus train fares going back to the 70s and by and large they tracked each other until a few years ago. Regulated fares have been capped at RPI or RPI+1% since privatisation and for most of that time (before 2008) average wages increased by above inflation. So what we have experienced in the last few years is rather exceptional and hopefully fares will increase slower than wages in the future.
 

Tetchytyke

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Inflation is really a work of fiction, based as it is on a "basket of goods"- including plenty of luxury goods- that most people don't buy. Deflation on things like electronic goods has hidden inflation on things like food, energy and water.

The issue isn't that inflation is high, it's that wage inflation is static.
 

Emyr

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Inflation is really a work of fiction, based as it is on a "basket of goods"
You mean measures of inflation are a work of fiction.

As are most gauges or indicators created by politicians.

The ones which aren't works of fiction are gamed to the point where they've lost meaning.
 

aformeruser

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Council tax is frozen at many councils;
My council tax has gone up.
On this - some figures are misleading.

Cheshire East council have set a figure of £1,118.94 for Band B properties.

If you live in Knutsford (Cheshire East) you pay £1,150.11 for Band B properties. The extra £31.17 is paid to the town council mainly for the management of the market and public toilets in the town - two things that up until recently Cheshire East council funded.
 
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Goatboy

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Are people really being priced off trains or is it just a sensationalist way of reporting the inevitable annual fare increases?
Some people must be - I can't be the only person who has decided to just drive instead as a direct result of the price of tickets.
 

dcsprior

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Commuter trains are already crush loaded, if fares were lower what do you think would happen to the loadings?
Of course many of the TOCs also have to lease a lot of rolling stock just to ferry those commuters to and from work, outside these times the trains just sit in the sidings costing the TOCs a lot of money on leasing charges, have a look at the sidings at Clapham Yard or various other yards around the main commuter Cities for your proof.
Maybe there are some things that could make it better for both TOCs and customers:
  • Discounted season tickets in exchange for time restrictions
  • Season tickets restricted to no more than 2/3/4 weekdays per week - meaning that there's a financial incentive for people who have the option of homeworking one or two days a week, or working full-time over four days, to take it.
  • Public-sector employers leading by example on flexible working arrangements like those above

Are people really being priced off trains or is it just a sensationalist way of reporting the inevitable annual fare increases?
Some people must be - I can't be the only person who has decided to just drive instead as a direct result of the price of tickets.
Some people will have the option of a cheaper bus or a quicker train. Rising train fares and/or available money after other costs (I expect the latter will be the greater overall effect) may lead to more people choosing the cheaper option - but that's just one of hundreds of similar decisions that people make on cheaper vs better.
 

455driver

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Maybe there are some things that could make it better for both TOCs and customers:
  • Discounted season tickets in exchange for time restrictions
  • How are you going to enforce it?
    [*]Season tickets restricted to no more than 2/3/4 weekdays per week - meaning that there's a financial incentive for people who have the option of homeworking one or two days a week, or working full-time over four days, to take it.
    Who is going to enforce it?
    [*]Public-sector employers leading by example on flexible working arrangements like those above
    Who is going to force that onto them?
Some people will have the option of a cheaper bus or a quicker train. Rising train fares and/or available money after other costs (I expect the latter will be the greater overall effect) may lead to more people choosing the cheaper option - but that's just one of hundreds of similar decisions that people make on cheaper vs better.
Have you thought about the implementation of these things?
What about those who cannot change their travel patterns but are not on a big wage?
 
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dcsprior

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Have you thought about the implementation of these things?
To be honest, not really. But I thought the the first of my suggestion was already available for some routes / operators and my second had been suggested by a few senior politicians in the past

What about those who cannot change their travel patterns but are not on a big wage?
Your post which I replied to seemed to be saying that the "peakiness" of demand made the overall cost of operating the railway higher (apologies if I've misinterpreted) . If this is the case, then spreading demand will reduce overall cost - if the savings are passed on then this would help everyone, even those who can't change their travel patterns.
 

richw

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The thing is, with the falling oil price (and car insurance), the cost of commuting by car is decreasing. The cost of commuting by rail almost never decreases.
My petrol bill 6 months ago was almost £180 a month. I now have a bigger, less economical car and my bill is around £120 a month.

my wife doesn't drive, due to the increase in child care and public transport she had to give up work as childcare plus travel was more than her monthly take home. We are now better off with just me working than when both of us were working.
Childcare was £4 an hour, and needed to be paid an extra hour either side of her shift so 48 hours a week for toddler, and 15 hours a week for school aged child, and monthly bus ticket £100(reasonable I think as gives unlimited travel on all first buses in Cornwall). She was earning gross £7.50 hour, monthly take home around £1100. Childcare has increased more than travel in Cornwall.
If we lived somewhere with higher transport fares she wouldn't of been able to return at all after maternity to work.
 
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