Future for London's Rail Fares

JonathanH

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Double all fares.
...is probably the sort of thing being thought of.

The obvious fare oddities to get rid of are the Euston - DC line stops and Liverpool Street - Cheshunt peak 'London Terminals' legacy discounts vs Z1 fares (most of the order of 20 or 30 pence, the biggest being 70p).

Brentwood needs rezoning, or Amersham and Chesham become zone 8 (single fares are only 10p cheaper, with a couple of minor exceptions. Though peak time caps/seasons are quite a bit cheaper from Z8) - they have very different fares. Then all that needs changing on the TfL scales to make them just one is the off-peak fares not involving zone 1. Or just keep them different scales - you might as well use different scales outside zone 6 (or 7 or 8) which are controlled by the fare-setting TOC. And then the contactless-only and "Merstham and Horley are in the same zone" nonsense could go.

I believe the flat fares within Z2-6 (and the similar fares from Z7-9) are revenue generating, getting marginal passengers onto trains, so I'd reduce the Anglia fares to those (one would be a 10p raise, but most a reduction), rather than the other way around. You want (except for under the specific unusual circumstances we have at the moment) to encourage outer borough off-peak users onto the tube, even if they are travelling greater distances as inner-London journeys but paying the same fare - you are running the trains, and the marginal cost is little, so the more the merrier!

Gradually reduce the premiums for South London by increasing NR fares slower than TfL, and NR+tube fares even slower, if at all.
The thing is - increasing all £1.50 fares to £2 - buses and underground outside zone 1 - would be a one-off unpopular measure but only because we currently consider these things as percentage increases when they happen in January. But loads of stuff in everyday life outside transport use increases like that - in supermarkets, the price of things changes by 50p and no-one really notices because prices go up and down with seasonal availability, promotions etc.

£2 is possibly what the bus fare would have been anyway from January 2021 without the freeze.

Is the demand that elastic outside Zone 2-6 that charging £2 rather than £1.50 would kill demand? I agree that increasing demand in the outer zones makes sense as that is where there is spare capacity.

It has always struck me as odd, however, that you can ride around Zone 1 and 2 for £7.20 when the single fare is £2.40 and there is limited spare capacity but if you made a large number of journeys in outer London without entering Zone 1 you are charged to enter it. Raising the Zone 1-2 cap would seem an easy way to increase revenue.
 
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si404

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The thing is - increasing all £1.50 fares to £2 - buses and underground outside zone 1 - would be a one-off unpopular measure but only because we currently consider these things as percentage increases when they happen in January. But loads of stuff in everyday life outside transport use increases like that - in supermarkets, the price of things changes by 50p and no-one really notices because prices go up and down with seasonal availability, promotions etc.

£2 is possibly what the bus fare would have been anyway from January 2021 without the freeze.

Is the demand that elastic outside Zone 2-6 that charging £2 rather than £1.50 would kill demand? I agree that increasing demand in the outer zones makes sense as that is where there is spare capacity.
You'll note that I didn't mention £1.50. That was very deliberate as I'm neither wed to that price, nor do I think it will remain that price. £2 seems fine, though I'd suggest locking that in for a few years rather than having it on the fare-price escalator.
It has always struck me as odd, however, that you can ride around Zone 1 and 2 for £7.20 when the single fare is £2.40 and there is limited spare capacity but if you made a large number of journeys in outer London without entering Zone 1 you are charged to enter it. Raising the Zone 1-2 cap would seem an easy way to increase revenue.
Here's how many (to two decimal places) to/from Z1 journeys (TfL-LU scale) you need to do to cap:

Z1-2: £7.20 = 2.48*£2.90 peak or 3.00*£2.40 off-peak
Z1-3: £8.50 = 2.58*£3.30 peak or 3.03*£2.80 off-peak
Z1-4: £10.40 = 2.67*£3.90 peak or 3.71*£2.80 off-peak
Z1-5: £12.30 = 2.62*£4.70 peak or 3.97*£3.10 off-peak
Z1-6: £13.20 = 2.59*£5.10 peak or 4.26*£3.10 off-peak
Z1-7: £14.40 = 2.57*£5.60 peak or £13.30 = 3.33*£4.00 off-peak
Z1-8: £17.00 = 2.46*£6.90 peak or £13.30 = 3.33*£4.00 off-peak
Z1-9: £18.80 = 2.69*£7.00 peak or £13.30 = 3.24*£4.10 off-peak

The caps are fairly equal wrt peak singles (all about 2.5 times the price) - the issues are a lack of caps avoiding zone 1 and cheap off-peak single fares from zones 4, 5 and 6 combining with a lack of off-peak caps involving those zones.
 

JonathanH

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You'll note that I didn't mention £1.50. That was very deliberate as I'm neither wed to that price, nor do I think it will remain that price. £2 seems fine, though I'd suggest locking that in for a few years rather than having it on the fare-price escalator.
Yes, that is a very fair point. The newspapers would run headlines with "33% increase" yet most people would probably feel that £2 was reasonable for what it offers.

Here's how many (to two decimal places) to/from Z1 journeys (TfL-LU scale) you need to do to cap:

Z1-2: £7.20 = 2.48*£2.90 peak or 3.00*£2.40 off-peak
Z1-3: £8.50 = 2.58*£3.30 peak or 3.03*£2.80 off-peak
Z1-4: £10.40 = 2.67*£3.90 peak or 3.71*£2.80 off-peak
Z1-5: £12.30 = 2.62*£4.70 peak or 3.97*£3.10 off-peak
Z1-6: £13.20 = 2.59*£5.10 peak or 4.26*£3.10 off-peak
Z1-7: £14.40 = 2.57*£5.60 peak or £13.30 = 3.33*£4.00 off-peak
Z1-8: £17.00 = 2.46*£6.90 peak or £13.30 = 3.33*£4.00 off-peak
Z1-9: £18.80 = 2.69*£7.00 peak or £13.30 = 3.24*£4.10 off-peak

The caps are fairly equal wrt peak singles (all about 2.5 times the price) - the issues are a lack of caps avoiding zone 1 and cheap off-peak single fares from zones 4, 5 and 6 combining with a lack of off-peak caps involving those zones.
Yes, all of the caps assume travel into Zone 1 which clearly isn't the case and seems to be justified by having the £1.50 fare in the suburbs.
 
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Given that TfL may well run out of cash again in a few months, this is probably not the end of it. The substantial hole that has now opened up in the Rail and TfL income budgets presumably will only increase the pressure to level up, rather than down, TfL and National Rail fares in the London area...

'Simpler' is a word that, unfortunately, has progressively altered its meaning when used in rail fares commentaries: it seems to be widely regarded as a synonym for 'lower', but higher fares can be just as 'simple'....!
 

Bob M

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Why is it that my out-of-London oldie's bus pass can be read by just about any bus in the country - except London?
 

Vespa

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Why is it that my out-of-London oldie's bus pass can be read by just about any bus in the country - except London?
I've had that with mine some can read some can't read, I asked my local transport authority about that, its down to the software and the driver would have to manually override, its all valid as per the T&C for buses, its just software.
I used concessionary passes no problems in Cornwall, Devon, Oxford but played up in Lowesoft, Cambridge and London it was embarrassing as people were watching me on the bus.
 

30907

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I've had that with mine some can read some can't read, I asked my local transport authority about that, its down to the software and the driver would have to manually override, its all valid as per the T&C for buses, its just software.
I used concessionary passes no problems in Cornwall, Devon, Oxford but played up in Lowesoft, Cambridge and London it was embarrassing as people were watching me on the bus.
London buses aren't equipped with readers. Otherwise, as you say, it's the software which doesn't recognise a specific LA, and that maybe operator specific.
 

PeterC

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I had a London driver insist that I touch in with my shire county ENCTS card once. He seemed totally unaware that the machine gave an error message and just walked through. Otherwise I always just show the card, about 80% of the time the driver actually remembers to press the button to record it.

The only time I have known an issue with readers outside of London was one which was rejecting tickets at 9:20 when Bucks allows travel from 9:00. The driver seemed unable to grasp that the machine would be wrong despite being shown the T&Cs printed on the cards. (Can't remember if that was Arriva or Carousel).

The only time I have felt embarassed was being called back by a driver in Yorkshire because I hadn't taken a paper ticket!
 
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London buses aren't equipped with readers.
They do have readers: they can read ITSO, bank and Oyster cards. I don't know why they won't read 'foreign' concessionary passes, but as the financial arrangements are so different in London I suppose it doesn't matter - as long as all staff are aware, that is. Perhaps there is no way to easily collects stats about usage without a major software upgrade, and those machines are getting very old now.
 

TUC

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Whilst the rest of the country is bailing London out, it is difficult to see why anything but the statutory minimum validity should apply to Freedom passes.
 

JonathanH

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Whilst the rest of the country is bailing London out, it is difficult to see why anything but the statutory minimum validity should apply to Freedom passes.
Doesn't that depend on where (and how) the money is being generated to pay for it?
 

matt_world2004

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Whilst the rest of the country is bailing London out, it is difficult to see why anything but the statutory minimum validity should apply to Freedom passes.
Isn't the TOC with the largest fare subsidy in the whole country Northern Rail? In return before the bailout most of TfLs services were recieving no fare subsidy.
 

higthomas

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Whilst the rest of the country is bailing London out, it is difficult to see why anything but the statutory minimum validity should apply to Freedom passes.
Remember that every bus company in the country along with every rail franchise is being "bailed out" in one form or another at the moment.

Whether we as a country want a system where London can afford such largess whilst many counties have 0 bus subsidy is a separate long term question.
 

datdad

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She lives in london and coming off what she told me.

What's your knowledge base ? Do you have a freedom pass yourself ?
Yup Ive got a Freedom pass and before I retired I was using the pass on the Tube and DLR before 09:00 and 09:30 five days a week. Dont miss those nose to armpit Northern line trips then change at Bank. Ho ho .
 
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I wonder if the government will strip TfL of its cpay technology so that it could be used on all rail services in the south east
Sorry, a bit behind on reading this thread but, yes, dft should take both the cpay and negotiate a zero royalty use of the Oyster. Brand and take the opportunity to apply both in the former NSE area. Something that is simple and many pax would welcome.
 

Hadders

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Sorry, a bit behind on reading this thread but, yes, dft should take both the cpay and negotiate a zero royalty use of the Oyster. Brand and take the opportunity to apply both in the former NSE area. Something that is simple and many pax would welcome.
You can't just extend Oyster as it can only deal with a limited number of fare zones which are all accounted for. Contactless only is being rolled out (e.g. to Reading, Welwyn Garden City etc.) but this isn't without its problems as contactless cannot handle railcard discounts or super off peak tickets meaning that for many leisure travellers they could end up paying more to use contactless compared to a paper ticket!
 

si404

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You can't just extend Oyster as it can only deal with a limited number of fare zones which are all accounted for.
They aren't quite all accounted for. Zone F was allocated for Berks/Bucks Elizabeth line stations, but remains unused.

Extending Oyster would be far easier if they reorganised the 9 auxiliary zones to be roughly concentric rather than patchwork and utilised the different fare scales (I don't believe that's full) function instead.
 

JonathanH

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Extending Oyster would be far easier if they reorganised the 9 auxiliary zones to be roughly concentric rather than patchwork and utilised the different fare scales (I don't believe that's full) function instead.
Who do you suggest pays for that?
 

si404

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Who do you suggest pays for that?
DfT and the TOCs seems sensible as it's them that want PAYG expansion.

There's certainly some use of fare scales already - so I'm not asking for a reinvention of the wheel here, just some reprogramming of existing gates, some administrative work, and formalising existing practice

Here's zone B's single fares to Oxford Circus (ie Z1 LU) - different lines out of London = different fares.
£10.10 | £7.40 - Potters Bar
£10.90 | £8.50 - Bayford, Hertford North
£11.00 | £7.40 - Radlett
£11.70 | £8.90 - Broxbourne, Rye House, St Margarets, Ware, Hertford East

And for more funny business - here's zone D's single fares to London Bridge NR (peak | off-peak) - they are all on the same line:
£10.00 | £6.10 - Mertsham
£11.30 | £6.50 - Redhill & Earlswood
£11.50 | £6.50 - Salfords & Horley
 

JonathanH

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DfT and the TOCs seems sensible as it's them that want PAYG expansion.

There's certainly some use of fare scales already - so I'm not asking for a reinvention of the wheel here, just some reprogramming of existing gates, some administrative work, and formalising existing practice

Here's zone B's single fares to Oxford Circus (ie Z1 LU) - different lines out of London = different fares.
£10.10 | £7.40 - Potters Bar
£10.90 | £8.50 - Bayford, Hertford North
£11.00 | £7.40 - Radlett
£11.70 | £8.90 - Broxbourne, Rye House, St Margarets, Ware, Hertford East

And for more funny business - here's zone D's single fares to London Bridge NR (peak | off-peak) - they are all on the same line:
£10.00 | £6.10 - Mertsham
£11.30 | £6.50 - Redhill & Earlswood
£11.50 | £6.50 - Salfords & Horley
That is the problem though - the fares are all different on different routes into London because of investment, demand, market forces over the years that evenly spaced concentric zones don't work.

Of course, Zone B is inside Zone D so you can go to both Potters Bar and Redhill at the cost of the Zone D daily cap.
 

MikeWh

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The biggest sticking point is cross London fares. Brentwood to Amersham costs the same as Brentwood to say Baker Street because you only pay for each zone once. Can you imagine Bedford to Brighton costing the same as Bedford to Farringdon?
 

JonathanH

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The biggest sticking point is cross London fares. Brentwood to Amersham costs the same as Brentwood to say Baker Street because you only pay for each zone once. Can you imagine Bedford to Brighton costing the same as Bedford to Farringdon?
Quite. There is some untapped revenue for TfL here charging more for Cross London travel.

I'd personally ditch the concentric zones and replace them with something else, perhaps based on boroughs with the fares based on how many passed through and perhaps a higher fare for the central ones.
 

matt_world2004

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I can't see there being any further expansion of oyster zones but as contactless can be expanded to an unlimited size this may be expanded throughout the south east using TfL backend and technology
 

si404

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That is the problem though - the fares are all different on different routes into London because of investment, demand, market forces over the years that evenly spaced concentric zones don't work.
The rough (I never said even) concentricity of the zones doesn't change the 'fares are all different on different routes' because Oyster can already handle that. Because it can handle that, we can have the roughly concentric zones and thus not get stuck because Shenfield is Zone C and so we can't put another station into that zone.

Given we have different fare scales on different routes (and even within zones on one route) ALREADY ON OYSTER, then what's stopping, say, out to Gatwick being (reflecting the current single prices):

Zone B: Mertsham
Zone C: Redhill & Earlswood
Zone D: Salfords & Horley (as now)
Zone E: Gatwick (as now)

But that line would have different prices to, say, the line out to Luton which might go: Radlett (B), St Albans (C), Harpenden (D), Luton Airport (E). And bingo, we've removed the contactless-only nonsense on that line!

I guess there's the excellent point by @MikeWh that it makes Luton-Gatwick the same price as Farringdon to Gatwick, and I guess there might be capping concerns too?

Or, taking a different direction with the creativity already existing in the system and using the zone D having 'subzones' weirdness, coupled with 4 different fare scales in zone B, means you can do stuff like allocate one of each of the beyond-9 zones to a rough direction out of London. Sure it would need some work to do, but surely less than trying to do what they are currently doing.

So, for instance, zone B could be north of London on four routes: out to Luton, Welwyn GC, Hertford North and Hertford East with sub-zones charging different prices along them. And with zone D (or whatever) on the Sussex routes to Dorking, Gatwick, East Grinstead, Edenbridge, etc, you can then charge more for a zone B-D journey than a zone 1-B or zone 1-D journey (though, obviously that would be an innovation, and would cost a lot more to implement).
 

JonathanH

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Do we have to have 'Zones'? There is a lot riding on getting the fare structure right first time because adjustments to it after its implementation will cause problems.

I don't really know enough to comment but it appears that a 'back-office only' approach - eg Contactless or upgraded Oyster is the way forward so that this stuff about zones outside the 1-9 structure can be removed, concentric or not, and a fair amount can be charged for cross London travel.

There seems to be easy money on the table for TfL in splitting up zones 1-6 by direction and a valid point is made above about the capping concerns about having Brighton and Bedford in the same 'zone'.
 

swt_passenger

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The biggest sticking point is cross London fares. Brentwood to Amersham costs the same as Brentwood to say Baker Street because you only pay for each zone once. Can you imagine Bedford to Brighton costing the same as Bedford to Farringdon?
And for those who want the whole of the former NSE area included, which concentric zone should Exeter be in? Then what about a suitable maximum fare to be deducted on entry - if it is really expected to work “just like Oyster?
 

Hadders

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And for those who want the whole of the former NSE area included, which concentric zone should Exeter be in? Then what about a suitable maximum fare to be deducted on entry - if it is really expected to work “just like Oyster?
Stevenage to London and Reading to London are similar distances, similar frequencies etc.

Stevenage to London Anytime Day Return £23.30
Reading to London Anytime Day Return £48.90

Nowhere near the same differential when it comes to season tickets though:

Stevenage £3,964
Reading £4,736

Good luck sorting that out into zones....
 

si404

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upgraded Oyster
but, to turn your question to me around:
Who do you suggest pays for that?
My proposal was a not-very radical have Oyster still doing what it currently can and does do, but reorganise what auxiliary zones stations are in and exploit some of the features to enable expanded coverage more completely in the area upto Reading/Gatwick-radius PAYG currently gets to* (the NSE area would be insane) but still keep the more granular fares. Your proposal is to develop a new system, overlay it on top of what's there now, and work to transition to the new system - far more expensive.

And that not spending a load of money to replace the existing system is why you use the zonal system - even if outside zone 9 you continue not to publicise them (or inside zone 9 like currently at Cuffley and Epsom).

*ie something like the base proposal consulted upon last year (see this IanVisits post for a summary)
Good luck sorting that out into zones...
Upthread, I showed examples where Oyster already does what you want with single fares! Season tickets are a bit harder though.
 

JonathanH

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but, to turn your question to me around:

My proposal was a not-very radical have Oyster still doing what it currently can and does do, but reorganise what auxiliary zones stations are in and exploit some of the features to enable expanded coverage more completely in the area upto Reading/Gatwick-radius PAYG currently gets to* (the NSE area would be insane) but still keep the more granular fares. Your proposal is to develop a new system, overlay it on top of what's there now, and work to transition to the new system - far more expensive.

And that not spending a load of money to replace the existing system is why you use the zonal system - even if outside zone 9 you continue not to publicise them (or inside zone 9 like currently at Cuffley and Epsom).

*ie something like the base proposal consulted upon last year (see this IanVisits post for a summary)
Upthread, I showed examples where Oyster already does what you want with single fares! Season tickets are a bit harder though.
My comment "Who do you suggest pays for that?" was about the reduction in fare revenue if a zonal structure results in fares falling on some routes. It really ought to be possible to load the cost of development of Contactless system into the new fares to be charged in the future so that can just be passed on to travellers.

My suggestion to develop a new zone structure based on 'boroughs' for want of any other clear structure is about increasing TfL and NR revenue (obviously by increasing fares) on a structure more closely aligned to distance in all directions than the current zonal basis. I acknowledge that development costs of this are quite considerable but it could pay for itself from the increased fare income.

I very much accept your point that using the current zonal structure might be the easiest way to develop this but does Oyster really need to be the basis for the expansion of PAYG when Contactless and TOC ITSO cards might be sufficient.
 

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