What Would a Good System for Working out Fares Look Like?

Discussion in 'Fares Advice & Policy' started by DynamicSpirit, 3 Jan 2017.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. Deerfold

    Deerfold Established Member

    Messages:
    9,033
    Joined:
    26 Nov 2009
    Location:
    Yorkshire
    Could you answer my questions about what effect you expect this to have on usage on the two lines?
     
  2. Bletchleyite

    Bletchleyite Veteran Member

    Messages:
    20,778
    Joined:
    20 Oct 2014
    Location:
    Up and down the south WCML (mostly)
    What, a pure kilometric system? It would decrease usage on the rural line and/or increase it on the commuter one, of course.

    However, if you read the rest of my post, you can deal with that by varying "tariff kilometres"[1] on a section of line without actually creating any anomalies, assuming you consider an anomaly to be "a situation where it is cheaper for a given journey to buy a ticket other than the cheapest relevant one from the intended origin to the intended destination", which is probably a fair definition.

    [1] This of course means they aren't actually kilometres, but the term Tarifkilometer is used in German by SBB/DB so we might as well translate it :) An example on SBB is that I believe a higher number of tariff kilometres are used on the Neubaustrecke from Olten to Bern than the actual distance to give it a bit of a premium price being quicker.
     
    Last edited: 6 Jan 2017
  3. najaB

    najaB Veteran Member

    Messages:
    15,324
    Joined:
    28 Aug 2011
    Location:
    Scotland
    So in the example of passengers travelling from Wigan Northwestern to Preston - would the Northern stopper be priced differently (cheaper) than the Virgin express? Same distance and same track for much of the route.
     
  4. Haywain

    Haywain Established Member

    Messages:
    2,020
    Joined:
    3 Feb 2013
    So a 400 mile journey would be priced at 40 times the price of a 10 mile journey, plus a premium for using a fast train? Again, no-one expects the actual fares that would be charged today to be given but put some sort of numbers against it. Be brave.
     
  5. Bletchleyite

    Bletchleyite Veteran Member

    Messages:
    20,778
    Joined:
    20 Oct 2014
    Location:
    Up and down the south WCML (mostly)

    It could be but needn't be - just as at present.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    --- old post above --- --- new post below ---

    You missed the bit about tapering and capping, I guess?

    I can't put useful numbers on it without knowing the existing fare income for a given route. So I don't see why you are asking for them repeatedly.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
  6. yorkie

    yorkie Administrator Staff Member Administrator

    Messages:
    34,894
    Joined:
    6 Jun 2005
    Location:
    Yorkshire
    Why not? Current fares are not necessarily based on income for the given route. What would you do if it was a new route then?
    --- old post above --- --- new post below ---
    Thus making rural routes vastly uneconomical to run, causing more deprivation. And on the commuter routes, you have major delays as overcrowding results in passengers being unable to board.
     
  7. DynamicSpirit

    DynamicSpirit Established Member

    Messages:
    2,526
    Joined:
    12 Apr 2012
    I don't doubt the Bushey fare is somewhat higher, but I wonder if the figures above give a misleading impression of by how much higher? A peak Oyster single from Bushey to London is £6.20, so I doubt many people pay £17! Besides, I would suspect a large proportion of people travelling in the peak - and so requiring an anytime return will be on season tickets (or Travelcards in the case of Bushey). Comparison then becomes tricky because the travelcard allows onward travel to almost anywhere in London, whereas I'm guessing that's not true of a Keighley-Leeds season.
     
    Last edited: 6 Jan 2017
  8. Deerfold

    Deerfold Established Member

    Messages:
    9,033
    Joined:
    26 Nov 2009
    Location:
    Yorkshire
    OK.

    West Yorkshire Z1-4 Metrocard £130 a month
    Bushey to Z1-8 Travelcard £296.90 a month

    This system's simpler?
     
    Last edited: 6 Jan 2017
  9. DynamicSpirit

    DynamicSpirit Established Member

    Messages:
    2,526
    Joined:
    12 Apr 2012
    OK, since lots of people are asking for some mileage-based proposal with some figures in, I put my thinking cap on, and came up with this suggestion.
    An off-peak return ticket price is calculated using this formula:

    Price (in £) = C + Q * G * K * (miles ^ P) +

    Where:
    • miles = distance (one way) in miles along the shortest rail route.
    • C = a small fixed charge, intended as a contribution to the cost of providing station facilities at the origin and destination and admin costs.
    • K = the rate per mile – how much you want to charge per mile. Obviously, the more Government support for rail, the less this number is.
    • P = a power factor (^ = raising to the power) to incorporate the common expectation that people should pay less per mile if travelling on longer journeys. (The thing where in most businesses, if you buy more of a product, you often pay less per unit bought).
    • G = a geographical factor. Usually 1, but might take different values in different parts of the country. In the short term, it would allow a mechanism whereby fares can be made not too dissimilar from today’s fares which seem to have a similar geographical variation. In the long term, it’d be nice if it became 1 everywhere, but there might be political/economic reasons for charging more in some parts of the country.
    • Q = a quality factor. Usually 1, but could be reduced on specific routes where service quality is poor (slow, infrequent trains), reflecting that poor service should attract a lower price. Examples would be the Cumbrian Coast line, the Whitby line (one of Yorkie’s examples :) ), and so on.
    • S = a supplement that upgrades the ticket from a ‘local’ ticket to an ‘intercity’ ticket, allowing travel on designated ‘intercity’ trains (as per my suggestion earlier in the thread).

    (Complicated formula, but obviously the passenger doesn't see that complexity: They only see the final computed price).

    If a journey spans multiple values of Q and G, then the cost is calculated from apportioning the mileage between them, eg. [Q1 * G1* (X1/X) + (Q2 * G2 * X2/X) ] * K * (X^P) where X is the total mileage, comprising X1 miles with Q1 and G1, and X2 miles with Q2 and G2.

    So some people wanted figures

    I tried this with C=£0.50, K=1.1, P=0.8. I think that keeps fares very roughly on average similar to current levels (although obviously some will be higher, some lower).

    Ignoring the inter-city supplement (which I’d say should be perhaps £3) That gives

    1 mile between origin and destination: £1.60
    5 miles: £4.49
    10 miles: £7.44
    20 miles: £12.58
    50 miles: £25.65
    100 miles: £44.29
    150 miles: £61.07
    200 miles: £76.75
    250 miles: £91.65
    300 miles: £105.96
    500 miles: £159.20
    750 miles: £220.00

    Obviously, you can tweak the values of K and P to get different results. And taking the quality factor into account, fares would be lower on lines with a poor service. The geography factor could vary those in some areas too.
    I personally would like fares to be somewhat lower than the figures above, but that requires more Government support.

    A few more details of how you could do it:

    Stations can still be put in a station group (‘London terminals’ – in which case mileage is counted to the geographical average of those stations).

    Price of an off-peak single = (say) 0.55 * off-peak return

    For peak travel, multiply by (say) 1.5 and for 1st class multiply by (say) 1.5 again. However, this should be restricted to the peak zone. As an example, say on the line from Euston, it’s decided that peak travel restrictions apply between London and Rugby. That means for a peak ticket Rugby-London you multiply the off-peak price by 1.5. But for a ticket from Oxenholme to London, to make it a peak ticket, you don’t multiply the whole ticket price by 1.5: Rather, you add on 0.5 of the price of a Rugby-London ticket.

    Where multiple routes exist, the price should be calculated from the shortest (or cheapest) option, but tickets would be valid by any reasonable route. In these days of online journey planners, the definition of ‘reasonable’ would need to be made more precise, but I would suggest that a route always counts as ‘reasonable’ if
    • The mileage is no more than 20% longer than the shortest route, and
    • At all times in the journey the train is going to call either at your final destination, or at a interchange point that is better for reaching your destination than the point you got on that train. (This rule stops people from making irrelevant side-trips within the 20%).
    Tickets could be marked as via X or not via X where appropriate (for example not via London on cross-country trips) - but that would probably need to be done in part by manual intervention. You'd also need to that in cases where a person might travel the wrong way along a line in order to connect to a faster train (for example, Hook to London - some people might wish to go via Basingstoke).

    So – there you go. Obviously that’s a very basic scheme, that would need a lot of refinement to make it work on the real network (and I'm sure lots of people will be able to pick lots of small holes where refinement might be required), but I think that gives some idea of how a mileage-based way of calculating fares might in principle look.

    By the way, one place where I’m not sure how this would work is on places where there is a topological ‘circle’ that you might go round either way. That’s the problem I mentioned earlier of, should Horsham to Worthing be cheaper or more expensive than Horsham to Shoreham, when you could reasonably get to Worthing via Shoreham or to Shoreham via Worthing. I can’t right now see how to solve that without either putting restrictions on the ‘via/not via’ that become too complex, or ending up in a situation where a ticket that takes you further round the circle costs less than one that doesn’t take you as far. (How is that problem resolved at the moment?)
     
    Last edited: 6 Jan 2017
  10. Bletchleyite

    Bletchleyite Veteran Member

    Messages:
    20,778
    Joined:
    20 Oct 2014
    Location:
    Up and down the south WCML (mostly)

    It by definition has no anomalies.


    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
     
  11. Deerfold

    Deerfold Established Member

    Messages:
    9,033
    Joined:
    26 Nov 2009
    Location:
    Yorkshire
    I'm not sure about that. As soon as a kilometer isn't a kilometer I suspect people will be going odd routes.

    You have gained this simplicity by sacrificing the ability to go by other routes simply.
     
  12. adrock1976

    adrock1976 Established Member

    Messages:
    1,531
    Joined:
    10 Dec 2013
    Location:
    Glasgow
    Regarding mileage based fares, how would this work in the traditional London Zones 1 to 6, and the 7 PTE areas, as they all (unsure about Tyne & Wear PTE) have a zonal system?
     
  13. DynamicSpirit

    DynamicSpirit Established Member

    Messages:
    2,526
    Joined:
    12 Apr 2012
    I don't know about any of the PTE areas, but, to my mind, the zonal system in London is nuts, and replacing it with a distance-based system would make far more sense.

    Right now, if you're at Richmond, off-peak, you can go along the entire North London line to Stratford AND then take the central line to Hainault, all for £1.50. On the other hand, if you just want to go one stop to Kew Gardens, it's the same price! Back to the Richmond-Hainault journey: If you decide to go through zone 1 instead (similar mileage), the off-peak fare jumps from £1.50 to either £2.80 or to £4.40, depending which route you go. And there's a separate £2.30 fare (again for the same journey) if you instead go via the Overground round South London. Confusing or what?

    On the other hand, if you live in Slade Green and want to go 1 stop to the shops in Erith, it's off-peak £1.90 - more than it costs to from one side of London to the other in my earlier example. Often the fare simply bears no relation to how far you're going.

    Back in the mists of the time, this made some sense. The Internet was less widespread so looking up individual Oyster fares online would've been harder. And the zonal system meant you could easily tell from the map how much any journey would cost - a pretty big benefit. But then National Rail came into Oyster Pay as You Go - but with a different set of fares. Then TfL took over some lines and Oyster got extended outside London in some places, and now there so many special rules for individual stations and individual lines that the simplicity has disappeared. Despite the zonal system, if you want to find out how much a journey is going to cost, I find the easiest way is just to look up that individual journey online. And - worse - it's in part because of the zonal system, that when you do look it up online, instead of one fare, there's a good chance you'll see a whole series of different fares depending on which route you take, that you'll then have to try to understand if you want to know the fare you'll pay. Like I said, it's nuts.

    On the other hand, if the system was based on mileage, the user experience wouldn't be too much much different - you'd still find out the fares by checking online for a journey, but the actual fare for any given journey would make much more sense in terms of how far you're going. Having Oyster touch-in and touch-out could still work exactly the same way. And maybe there'd be fewer different fares for the same journey (although I can see you might still want to charge a premium for going into zone 1 because most services are so crowded there, which would leave a bit of complexity in that regard).

    Possibly, if a mileage-based system meant fares became lower for people going 1 or 2 stops in outer London, it'd mean more people would use trains and tube for those kinds of journeys too - which might actually help balance loading - many trains are packed out in central London but very lightly used once they get out to zones 5-6, so attracting more people to make short journeys on them there would be quite nice for keeping trains well used throughout their journeys.
     
  14. Bletchleyite

    Bletchleyite Veteran Member

    Messages:
    20,778
    Joined:
    20 Oct 2014
    Location:
    Up and down the south WCML (mostly)

    It is impossible to have multi routed tickets without anomalies, other than if you make the more expensive ticket valid via the cheaper route as a de facto thing. If we want to remove anomalies on Anytime tickets, prescriptive routeing is the only way, whether your kilometres are real ones or notional tariff ones.

    I've shied away from off peak because it is effectively impossible to come up with an anomaly free way to do that that does not involve Advances being the only off peak ticketing.


    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
    --- old post above --- --- new post below ---
    Re zones, notably the Dutch have abandoned them in favour of a base "touch in" price plus a per operator kilometric rate.


    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
     
    Last edited: 7 Jan 2017
  15. MikeWh

    MikeWh Established Member Senior Fares Advisor

    Messages:
    4,907
    Joined:
    15 Jun 2010
    Location:
    Crayford
    If you scrap the zonal system, how would you operate the caps?

    BTW. I wholeheartedly agree with the madness about the complexity, but that is completely down to politics. What is really needed is for a single entity to set all fares in zones 1-6. Until that happens it will continue to be complex once you cease to be a child.
     
  16. 30mog

    30mog Member

    Messages:
    176
    Joined:
    25 Apr 2013
    With the existing use of smart card technology. Could it be realistic to set up some kind of mileage buying system? I.e. Sell a card allowing any journey(s) up to the number of miles paid for at an agreed pence per mile. Which could also be set up to charge you a percentage more at busy times - perhaps 130 miles for 100 miles at peak time. A requisite might be you have to bulk buy at least 500 or even a 1000 miles to get the capped mileage rate. That said, the holder of a bulk mileage card would not be compelled to use it at all times and able to purchase a one off ticket if a better deal, in the opinion of the passenger, is there.

    I can also add I have monitored the cost of every UK rail journey in pence per mile I've made over the last few years. And suggest that if I paid £85-100 for any 500 miles it would be about right as in, not necessarily any cheaper for me nor any loss for TOCS revenues.
     
  17. najaB

    najaB Veteran Member

    Messages:
    15,324
    Joined:
    28 Aug 2011
    Location:
    Scotland
    I tap in at Glasgow Central with enough miles to get me to Carlisle. What's stopping me from travelling to Crewe?
     
  18. DynamicSpirit

    DynamicSpirit Established Member

    Messages:
    2,526
    Joined:
    12 Apr 2012
    You could still have a daily cap covering all of London if it was desired. You couldn't really have smaller zone-based caps (or travelcards), but I don't think that would really matter, as the people who currently benefit from those are likely to be mostly people who make several shorter journeys within a local area. With distance-based fares, those people are likely to see a reduction in their fares anyway, so losing a cap won't be such a concern. (Though obviously, in any change, there will be winners and losers).

    I somewhat agree. However, I don't think that's the only big problem. There's also the issue that the zones are defined doughnut-fashion. Although I don't know the precise history of the zones, I'm guessing that originally, that would have worked well because there weren't really many orbital lines included in the system: TfL basically ran the tube, which outside zone 1 is almost entirely radial. With that kind of network, ring-shaped zones are quite good at giving only one fare for each journey, and making sure that long journeys attract suitable fares (because any sufficiently long journey is likely to go through zone 1). Now that the zonal system includes a more genuine network in outer London, ring-shaped zones don't seem so appropriate (they are the reason why it's possible in some cases to travel right across London paying the same fare as a short trip). But TfL don't seem to have realized that these changes mean the zonal system is arguably no longer fit for purpose.

    The other problem with any zonal system is you have to put the boundary between zones somewhere, and that inevitably means some short hops get (somewhat unfairly) charged for multiple zones, whereas much longer trips within a single zone get charged less.
     
  19. Deerfold

    Deerfold Established Member

    Messages:
    9,033
    Joined:
    26 Nov 2009
    Location:
    Yorkshire
    There's plenty of people hit the daily cap for zones 1 to 2, which is a little over half the zone 1 to 6 cap.

    For season tickets you can currently save a small fortune by not including Zone 1.

    There's very few new rail routes that have been added to the zonal system since it was introduced. I'm not sure which you think make it no longer fit for purpose.
     
  20. yorkie

    yorkie Administrator Staff Member Administrator

    Messages:
    34,894
    Joined:
    6 Jun 2005
    Location:
    Yorkshire
    Ok so if I get the card and go from York to Sheffield, how does the system know how many miles to deduct from it? And what's to stop people exceeding the limit on their card?

    When would peak times be, and how would the system know to charge you at the higher rate? If the journey is only peak time up to the first station, how would we "split"?
     
  21. Bletchleyite

    Bletchleyite Veteran Member

    Messages:
    20,778
    Joined:
    20 Oct 2014
    Location:
    Up and down the south WCML (mostly)

    Some of the European open access operators do "kilometer bank" schemes like that, I think Westbahn is one, possibly also HKX do or did.


    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
    --- old post above --- --- new post below ---

    Indeed, while I recognise the need for a lower bus only fare (social inclusion and to avoid crowding out the Zone 1 Tube), the TfL fares should be "bus only" and "all modes".


    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
     
  22. Busaholic

    Busaholic Established Member

    Messages:
    5,948
    Joined:
    7 Jun 2014
    Or, perhaps, enjoy a second childhood (so long as you possess a Freedom Pass).:)
     
  23. 30mog

    30mog Member

    Messages:
    176
    Joined:
    25 Apr 2013
    I know of a bus company with a smart card system that allows you any journey providing you have at least 50p in credit. If your fare is actually £3 your balance goes to -£2.50. So long as you top up enough to remove the negative in 7 days they agree to take NO action.

    Variation/similar rule could be applied.
     
  24. najaB

    najaB Veteran Member

    Messages:
    15,324
    Joined:
    28 Aug 2011
    Location:
    Scotland
    The difference being that the negative balance could be several hundred pounds.
     
  25. DynamicSpirit

    DynamicSpirit Established Member

    Messages:
    2,526
    Joined:
    12 Apr 2012
    That's a reasonable point. I guess in a mileage-based system, you'd still want at least a separate central London travelcard zone, so people can get travelcards that avoid zone 1.

    Because (a) it's no longer just a zonal system. It's a zonal system plus so many exceptions and special cases that it's become arguably more complicated to passengers than a simple distance-based system would be, and (b) it leads to so many anomalies where relatively long journeys have unrealistically low fares while short journeys have higher fares.
     
  26. najaB

    najaB Veteran Member

    Messages:
    15,324
    Joined:
    28 Aug 2011
    Location:
    Scotland
    Are there really that many exceptions and special cases? The anomalies of long journeys being cheaper most commonly are a result of taking a long route for a journey that could be much shorter if you went through Zone 1.

    Shouldn't people be rewarded for avoiding the most congested part of the system?
     
  27. deltic

    deltic Established Member

    Messages:
    1,529
    Joined:
    8 Feb 2010
    simple - you scrap the caps. If move over to a mileage based scheme and pay as you go there is no reason to have caps.
     
  28. najaB

    najaB Veteran Member

    Messages:
    15,324
    Joined:
    28 Aug 2011
    Location:
    Scotland
    What!? How does that logic work?
     
  29. deltic

    deltic Established Member

    Messages:
    1,529
    Joined:
    8 Feb 2010
    Why would you have caps under a mileage scheme, there is no logic to it. You pay based on the number of miles you do - why suddenly stop charging when you have completed a certain number of trips or travelled a certain distance.
     
  30. najaB

    najaB Veteran Member

    Messages:
    15,324
    Joined:
    28 Aug 2011
    Location:
    Scotland
    For the same reason that caps exist now - to encourage people to use public transport. Without a cap there comes a point where it's cheaper to use a private vehicle.
     
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.

Share This Page