[h/t Green Party candidate Daryl853 for much of this lot]

Information is beginning to leak out [PDF of Mayoral Decision on fares] as to just how much it’ll cost to travel on Oyster PAYG on National Rail – leaving aside the apparent lunacy of something called ‘Oyster Extension Permits’, which apparently allow Travelcard users to extend out of zone but at the cost of removing the turn-up-and-swipe benefit of Oyster (i.e. the best thing about it) we have a possible PR nightmare of conflicting fares, existing PAYG fares rising sharply and massive confusion about the cheapest route between the same two points.

First the good news, it does look likely that early 2010 will see everyone running commuter trains in London signed up to Oyster with the fare structure agreed, which is a major milestone.  Victoria-Balham started as a pilot on Sunday.  We wait and see whether 2/1/2010 is the full running start or just the fare changes, however.

Secondly the bad news, since the TOCs don’t want Oyster’s complexities and extra passengers, the cost of this is paid by a) TfL and b) the farepayer.  In particular the south London farepayer, since they have the least choice – I’m lucky in that I can walk ten minutes to the tube or four minutes to SWT, so I can decide whether the higher SWT fare is worth six minutes of my time or not which isn’t an option available in most of the south of the capital.  Looking at the farescale for local journeys here such as my partner’s drive to work, using PAYG on the train comes to £3.60 per day (Z3->Z4 peak, Z4->Z3 peak).  This is more expensive than the current return, and nowhere near enough to get her out of the car.  A peak-time tube journey Z3-Z4 and back, even with Boris’s whopping 18.2% January increase, is £2.60 per day (for reference, a 7 day Travelcard would be £3.80 per day if used solely for the work journey – that one goes up 14.5%).

All this is subject to confirmation, of course, but it does sadly appear that Oyster on PAYG will be substantially less good and less integrated than it should be due to a politically driven timetable overriding common sense and usabilty considerations allied to the perverted incentives in the privatised rail system, a privatisation supported by the Mayor.  I wonder if he’s beginning to come round to the idea of proper accountable democratic control of commuter rail yet?  London Overground shows how it should be done – our Z3-Z4 peak commute is £2.60 there, just the same as the Tube.

One final thing from Mayoral Decision, the extra £125m he’s hoovering out of our pockets is split £78m from bus users and £47m on tube users.  Worse, although the bus fare increases will bring in an extra £118m, £46m of that is lost through people not using the bus, with all that implies for sustaining service frequencies – turning people off the buses has never previously benefitted London, instead usually leading to a spiral of decline.  Personally, I think I’ll drive, thanks.  After all, the traffic lights will more likely to be green now.  Poop Poop!

Bonus Joke

Nowhere in the Mayoral Decision does it say the fares are being hiked to fill a hole left by evil Cuban newt fanciers holding down the fares for political reasons.  Rather:

The impact of the recession has been significant in London and this has had a major bearing on the state of Transport fro London’s (TfLs) finances.  TfL has seen the biggest fall in journeys for economic reasons in over twenty years, particularly on the Tube, where demand had fallen by 6%.  In total, a fall in revenues of around £3bn over the course of TfL’s Business Plan to 2017/18 is now projected. This fall in revenue is also compounded by other pressures, in particular, the fallout from the collapse of Metronet (now under LU control, but leaving a cost legacy to be addressed).

Quite how turning people away from public transport helps fill a hole caused by fewer people using public transport entirely escapes me.

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