Fares and Ticketing Systems are looked at on several pages. This is page 1.
These topics are on this page.
These topics are on page 2.
Why Pay Fares?
We live in a society where money is the unit of exchange for goods and services and although there are many problems connected with inequalities of earnings which affect different people's ability to afford a reasonable standard of living, whether they like it or not it is quite reasonable that passengers should pay something towards the cost of their travel. (It can be argued that at times they are asked to pay too much, but that is a different issue).
Transport systems need to raise money to pay their staff (no not me - I do not work for any of them!) and generally towards their upkeep. Whether the social and economic benefits to the nation as a whole justify governments allocating taxpayers' money to contribute towards this current expenditure is debatable - especially if the transport is not operated efficiently and therefore incurs costs that it could avoid - however there is no doubt that investment in capital expenditure (ie: new infrastructure, extensions to existing lines, major renewals, street transport electrification...) should be based on the concept that as the whole community benefits, the whole community should pay.
Indeed, even motorists who never use the system will benefit, albeit if only because by other motorists switching away from their cars then the roads will be emptier for them.
This means that no matter how good the rest of the transport system - its integration, reliability, user-friendliness, etc., - the Fares And Ticketing System can make that vital difference which either attracts or repels passengers.
Good ticketing must:-
As with banks, post offices, the tills (checkouts) in shops and check-in at airports, buying transport tickets might require queuing.
For most journeys however there are ticketing solutions which allow passengers to avoid this chore.
Readily available means that it is should be easy to purchase a ticket - not just for regular passengers but also for occasional users and visitors. The inability to purchase a ticket at point of travel discourages honest irregular travellers and encourages (or at least gives a ready excuse for) fare evasion.
Whilst many passengers are happy to buy their tickets from self-service ticket vending machines, there are some people who find technology (of any kind) somewhat daunting, who do not use the Internet, or who have special requirements / need special tickets which machines do not sell, so there will always be a need for ticket offices staffed by properly trained real life humans.
Be easy to use means that the fares system should be simple to understand, so that passengers have a reasonable chance of buying the correct ticket for their journey.
Cover the entire journey means that the same ticket, bought at or before the start of a journey will cover the whole journey, even if this journey requires several changes (bus to train, and then to tram, etc). There also needs to be a mechanism whereby passengers who decide to alter their journey whilst en-route can pay any additional fare without being seen as willful fare dodgers.
Represent good value for money is perhaps a subjective issue as one persons' concept of a reasonable fare will differ from another's. However most would agree that the policy whereby fares are raised to such a high level that they are barely affordable simply cannot represent good value for money and instead either encourage attempts at fare dodging or lead to more people choosing to go by car. Part of the issue here is that some British train operating companies now use the "market forces - as high as people will pay" principle as their primary ticketing philosophy. As a contrast many European railways base their fares using a distance - travelled fares chart, although they do have discounted off-peak offers too.
For urban travel the situation is often not much better, and with trains on many routes suffering peak hour overcrowding in some locations rail fares are kept high to encourage passengers to switch to other transports. Off-peak fares however are usually more reasonable, and in some conurbations the 'pay-once ride-at-will' tickets offer extremely good value for money.
In some countries they charge sales tax (VAT/GST) on public transport fares. The EU wants us to do the same here in Britain and it suggests that if, as a result, fares are too high then they should be subsidised. Experience in Switzerland (in 1995) showed that when 6.2% tax was added to fares the Federal Railways saw traffic fall by 5.5%, and revenue by 7.3%.
(Bureaucrats like subsidies because it creates extra work for more bureaucrats. This increases their self importance and in effect can be likened to a form of 'breeding' with ordinary people [ie: taxpayers]
having to foot the bill. The financial implications of this never concern the bureaucrats because not only are they not democratically accountable but they are so highly paid that they just do not need to care! - witness
the fact that in 2013 it was announced that for the 19th year in a row the EU's budget could not be given a clean bill of health because too much money was going astray, leaking away...where to I wonder? - - and since Britain
is one of the few net contributors so its mostly our tax-payers money that is being siphoned off. For more information follow this link:
|A feature of longer distance rail travel in Britain is that at weekends on bank holidays a supplement (paid in cash, on the train) allows holders of some types of standard class tickets to upgrade to first class. Depending on the train operator and distance travelled the cost may be significantly higher than the flat fee of £5 quoted in the image.||It does happen - once in a while fares do come down!|
Be flexible means to offer the same 'turn up and travel' flexibility as the private car. Many people only decide to travel at the last minute - often after having seen the weather forecast - this flexibility is partly what attracts so many people to their cars, so to be competitive public transport MUST offer similar flexibility too.
In the days of the state-owned British Railways passengers were offered a choice of leisure tickets which included both discounted 'book-ahead' fares and discounted 'saver' & even 'super-saver' off-peak fares which could be bought for immediate "walk-on" travel (no seat reservation required) and were valid on most trains after 9.30am weekdays plus all day weekends. (OK super-savers could not be used on summer Fridays or Saturdays).
An unwelcome phenomena since privatisation is that many train operating companies have been eroding their 'walk-on" tickets by significantly increasing the prices, stiffening the restrictions on when they can been used (particularly by delaying the weekday "travel-after" times), and even abolishing them completely - forcing walk-on passengers to pay the full fare, which on many services have risen far more steeply than the official rate of price inflation. Instead it has become policy to try to force passengers to book train travel like air travel - that is tickets are only valid on nominated trains and must be booked 7-14 days in advance.
Granted that there are some very good bargains to be had the whole point about train travel is that it should offer a 'turn up and go' service - after all no-one ever has to book a week in advance to use their private car when it is sitting in their driveway!
This 'nominated trains only' policy takes no account of the fact that the days' activities events can end early / over-run or that for some travel (especially day trips) unpredictable factors such as the weather can sometimes help when making the decision whether to return at 5pm (its raining) or 7pm (warm evening, very pleasant to be outside). Whilst inflexible ticketing systems may work well on the airlines (which have much more limited passenger capacities) the unfortunate reality is that some passengers have found their travel costs have risen by over 100% - effectively pricing them off the trains and into their private cars.
Be fair in this context the word fair means equitable - in the sense that it is only right that passengers should feel they are dealing with an honest organisation. However, the reverse is also true and for passengers who - despite being able to do so - simply fail to purchase a ticket valid for the entire journey in advance of travelling the charging of a pre-set 'penalty' fare is not unreasonable. Persistent willful fare dodgers still end up in court.
Sometimes though passengers fall foul of the rules through no fault of their own - for example... in Strasbourg, France passengers must validate their tickets before use. I failed to do this as I joined the system at an underground station where it was so dark (most of the lights were not working) that I just did not see the ticket validators located on the platform. Thankfully I was not caught by the roving ticket inspectors!!! I validated my ticket at a surface station when I saw other people validating their tickets and thereby realised my error.
Regular inspection is an essential element of all ticketing systems, otherwise the situation could arise as happened in Amsterdam, Holland, where the fares system became so lax that an American tourist guide book advised visitors that the trams were free to ride!
Part time ticket sales.
In some areas it is not unusual for station ticket offices to only be opened for part of the day. This is because the cost of staffing the stations and heating & lighting the ticket offices is often deemed to be too high. In instances such as this special permit to travel machines are usually made available so that passengers can pay some / all of their fare in advance. These machines give paper receipts which can be shown to a ticket inspector whilst en-route or ticket collector at the end of the journey. In this way the passengers will have proof that they were not trying to avoid paying for their journey.
Typically the normal station entrances are closed at the same time as the ticket offices and passengers will be directed to use alternative station entrances, such as a side gate. If there are electronic ticket barriers then these too will not be being used at this time (just left open) - although in areas where there are smart card ticketing systems electronic card readers should still be available.
A permit to travel machine and a sign advising passengers to use a side entrance when the ticket office is closed.
They use the same tracks, the same station platforms,
|Signs at London Victoria Station advertising competing services to London's Gatwick Airport.
||A Thameslink liveried train to Bedford via Central London (left) and Gatwick Express train to London Victoria at Gatwick Airport station.|
|Since these photographs were taken the Thameslink service has been re-branded as FirstCapitalConnect and the former Connex franchise has been awarded to the Go-Ahead group and is called Southern. The Gatwick Express is also now part of the Southern franchise, although it still retains its own separate marketing identity. What has not changed however is the government-inspired fares policy.|
At certain times of the day passengers travelling on an otherwise ordinary urban railway route in south London using some types of concessionary fare tickets are only able to use services operated by one of the two train operating companies which provide the services along that route. This is because the different transport businesses have different rules as to when the concessionary fares tickets may be used on their trains.
Station gating and accessibility.
Many busy railway stations have replaced human ticket checkers at entry / exit points to the platforms with automated ticket gates which passengers must pass through at the start and end of their journey. Primarily this is done in an attempt to prevent fare dodging, or in other words, travelling without paying.
This has not met with universal approval from the passengers, who are concerned about factors including:-
With ticket barriers there is a need for staff to be on constant duty to monitor their use and be ready to offer assistance where required. At times when there are no staff available (this is quite common in the evenings) the barriers have to be left open - which somewhat negates the stated reasons for installing them. Apparently at some stations the barriers are only monitored by closed circuit TV, which means that passengers who need assistance can be forced to wait an unreasonable time period for such assistance to arrive. Long enough to miss their train, perhaps?
|Many urban transit systems use electronic ticketing systems with entry and exit gates, so whilst this view comes from Wimbledon station in London it could just as easily
have come from cities such as Paris, France; Madrid, Spain; Singapore; Boston, San Francisco, USA; Toronto, Montréal, Canada; and so on...
Note the extra wide ticket gate on the right. Although primarily intended for the special needs people depicted by the pictograms these can in fact be used by anyone.
|On open systems the fares paid area in which all passengers are required to be in possession of a valid ticket is often delineated solely by signs plus
a marking on the ground (ie: there are no physical ticket barriers). Many newer light rail systems use this system - this image comes from London's Docklands Light
Railway and here the red line is clearly visible.
Next to the red line can be seen some free-standing card readers for the Oyster smart card ticketing system.
The platform circulating area at Richmond station in south-west London. The barriers were installed at the same time as the electric ticket gates. They split the area into two and mean that passengers changing trains need to effectively leave the fares paid area (ie: break their journey) to access most of the food outlets or use the toilets. For passengers using smartcard ticketing solutions which use an e-purse - in London known as Oyster PAYG - this can result in extra costs. (These terminologies are explained on Fares & Ticketing systems page 2 , which looks at smartcard ticketing).
Significant changes to established walking patterns.
An issue faced at some stations - which even includes the London Underground - is that whether by design or default parts of some stations which might be expected to be within the fares paid area and therefore only be accessible to passengers who have valid tickets have become public walking routes, linking different parts of the local community, and as a result local people have complained most vociferously against proposals for ticket gates on the basis that these would impede their freedom of movement. At some stations a solution which the station operators have suggested is for people who need access to be supplied with free passes, and sometimes this has been found to be acceptable.
|Some stations already feature separate footbridges over the tracks, with one able to be dedicated to passengers inside the 'fare paid area' and the other for people who may be
travelling - or may just be using the footbridge as a walking route.
These images come from Amersham station, note the padlocked doors blocking the connection between the two footbridges.
Sometimes a solution can be found in splitting the passageway into two sections, with one section being inside the fares paid area and the other outside. Note how passengers who use the other exit must now walk to the ticket gates and then return halfway back along the passageway to reach the steps to the platforms. These images come from Moor Park station.
Changes to walking routes can also affect railway passengers too, making them walk much longer distances around stations than they previously needed to. For instance, station car parks sometimes benefit from side entrances into the station which with the introduction of electronic ticket barriers are sealed off (ie: closed) - forcing these passengers to walk the longer way round via the main entrance.
Two cities where campaigning has been especially vocal are Sheffield and York.
In Sheffield the proposals include closing off to all but railway ticket holders a footbridge which is both the primary interchange walking route between the tram and bus stations on opposite sides of the railway station and also acts as a direct route between various residential parts of the city and the city centre. The bridge is wholly within the station and despite being used as such is not officially a public right of way.
In both cities local government planning applications need to be approved before work can proceed, and with both cities rejecting the planning applications so November 2009 saw plans to gate the stations in both cities being cancelled - or at least that is what some people thought - as after (in February 2010) human ticket checkers were used to blockade the pedestrian route in Sheffield it became known that despite the planning application defeat the desire to install the ticket barriers was still very much alive...
In an attempt to break the impasse early 2012 saw the government offering £3m to build a separate pedestrian bridge, with the train operating company which controls the station claiming that fraudulent travel could be costing it as much as £2.3m per year, and that installing the ticket gates is a franchise condition which it is expected to fulfill.
More information about the situation in Sheffield can be found at the Residents Against Station Closure website: http://www.rasc-sheffield.com.
|Views of both ends of the Sheffield station walkway - inside the main station concourse and the opposite end close to the tram stop.|
|Inside the walkway - note that there are steps to the platforms from both sides. This prevents the solution seen above at Moor Park.||Looking out from the walkway towards some of the railway platforms and the tram stop.|
Gates in: Fares Income Up.
Although exact financial data is restricted as being 'commercially sensitive', the train operators say that when platform barriers are introduced ticket sales at that station rise noticeably - which suggests that fares evasion really is a problem. Although after a while the number of people buying tickets at the specific stations then fall - which is being attributed to them buying at other stations or online - they claim that despite the high cost of installing and staffing the barriers the financial outcome is that the investment is cost effective. Ultimately fares revenue is the lifeblood of the railway system, without which either the taxpayer will have to provide revenue support or the system closes down.
The need for Platform Tickets.
Because those who control the ticketing system have said that it would "add another layer to an already complicated ticket-pricing structure" (in other words, it is 'too difficult' for us to achieve) few stations sell platform tickets, which effectively prevents relatives and friends from seeing passengers off and greeting their arrival. Whilst officials suggest that ticket gate staff will use their discretion to provide platform passes, experience with how petty officials and 'jobsworths' often get things wrong suggests that it would be better to have a solution which they cannot stifle.
One would have thought that if the publicly-stated aim of installing ticket barriers was to prevent fares dodging then the railways would be equally keen to make it easier to purchase tickets. However, whilst it is true that many stations usually have several self-service ticket machines and that it is also possible to buy tickets online (Internet) the reality is that some people have special requirements (or are just not happy dealing with machines) and therefore need to visit a ticket office to see a real human being. Too often passengers complain that the queues to be served are very long, often suggesting that the railway company is not employing enough people and therefore de facto encouraging passengers to travel without tickets. It is easy to repeat the oft-spoken mantras that passengers should always arrive early and allow plenty of time, but (for instance) what about the person who allowed extra time only to be heavily delayed - through no fault of their own - on their way to the station?
|With twin counters facing the 'open' and the 'fare paid' area a confectionary outlet straddles the ticket barrier at Wimbledon station in London.||Ticket barriers at Newcastle Upon Tyne's Central Station which due to 'lack of staff' have been blocked off with unsightly galvanised barriers, causing significant inconvenience to passengers.
Image: Cabys campaigning promotional material at link below, where further information about their being used / not used in ways which are contrary to passenger benefit can also be found.
|Open ticket gates late in the evening at London's King Cross station.||Platform ticket issued for use at London Kings Cross station
Image & license: Ansbaradigeidfran / Wikipedia encyclopædia.
CC BY-SA 3.0 http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/
Other reasons for ticket gates.
In addition to ensuring that all passengers pay their fares, ticket gates can perform other often applauded functions too, such as making trains and travel in general safer by keeping out anti-social people whose intentions towards other travellers are sometimes less than welcome. In theory it would be nice to keep the drunks out too. Of course these reasons fall flat when the anti-social people also have valid tickets so are entitled to access the platforms and travel on the trains.
Another excuse which is often used in Britain is that since the 7/7 bombing incidents in London it is felt desirable for stations to have restricted access points which are monitored by 24/7 camera surveillance systems. Of course this is just about the worst possible non-excuse which actively tarnishes everything else official spokespeople say and creates the impression that in reality they do not care about fare dodging but are desperate for ticket gates for some reason other than what has been said so far. The fact is that the perpetrators of the 7/7 events passed through a station which had ticket gates, were filmed by the CCTV cameras, and even had valid tickets. Furthermore, there are many open stations on our railways (which it will never be financially viable to seal off with gates and barriers) where people with ill intent could gain access to the transport system. It could also be asked why similar reasons were not advocated during the IRA bombing of the 1970's? - when the railways were sometimes the intended targets.
In many ways the use of terrorism as an excuse has to be seen as little more than a red herring, with the real aim being the introduction of more police state ways of controlling the massed population and keeping people in fear of dangers which whilst certainly most terrible are very rare - unlike the daily tally of people who suffer ill health and untimely death from illnesses caused by preventable causes - such as air pollution - and about which decision makers are doing very little to resolve. A report by the Parliamentary Committee on the Medical Effects of Air Pollutants found that air pollution hastens the deaths of between 12000 and 24000 British people a year and is associated with 14000 and 24000 hospital admissions and re-admissions - causing sufferers and their families untold amounts of misery and costing our health service & taxpayers £billions. In addition urban air pollution in our towns and cities is so severe that the EU wants to prosecute our Government - yet all our politicians are doing is to ask for derogations, which means more time to concoct a cure! The real tragedy here is that there are proven viable modes of transport which if adopted could help act as being part of the solution to urban air pollution but they are being spurned. This topic is looked at in greater detail on the Advocating Electric Transport for London and Electric Buses pages.
|It will never be economic to install platforms barriers at smaller stations, especially since they need at least one member of staff to be on duty at all times. However the ticket machine
usually allows passengers to buy some types of ticket, although...
Image & license: Geof Sheppard / Wikipedia encyclopædia. CC BY-SA 3.0
|...machines are not infallible! Despite generally being reliable nothing works 100% of the time. Certainly in London, and possibly elsewhere too, it is usually possible for travelling ticket inspectors who meet a passenger without a valid ticket to contact their deskbound colleagues and confirm whether the automated machines at the station where the passenger claims to have started that journey were working - or not.|
|In many areas passengers who do not have proof of having paid their fare in advance of travelling are required to pay a penalty fare.
An alternative way of doings things could be to make the standard fare much higher but offer a discount (for instance, of 90%) for passengers who pay in advance of travel, rather than to the travelling ticket inspectors.
|Touch-screen self service ticket machines such as this will also print out tickets purchased on the Internet. However their range of tickets is sometimes less than what is available at staffed ticket offices.
In London they also sell local ride-at-will day tickets, but this is not the situation in Merseyside where the latter come in scratchcard form and are sold at newsagents instead. Yours truly only learnt this when the train was already in the station and about to depart. Ugh!
The essence of multi-modal through ticketing is that as far as possible one ticket should cover the entire journey. To the passenger the advantages of not having to buy individual tickets are:-
Transport operators benefit from multi-modal through ticketing too. The less handling of money / processing of 'plastic' card transactions plus shorter queues equates to lower demand on staff and an overall saving in the cost of maintaining ticketing facilities.
The only real 'disbenefit' is that by not selling any point-to-point tickets it becomes harder to update services in response to changes in long term passenger travel patterns.
As a general theme multi-modal through ticketing is usually considered as being for local / urban journeys within one city and its conurbations or a series of urban centres in a regional ticketing scheme. Some British long distance rail companies also offer combined rail + local bus / tram ticketing for certain routes and whilst this is commendable what is really required is a scheme such as in Holland where there is a national local transport ticket that can be used A N Y W H E R E in the country.
There is no reason why airlines cannot also be involved in multi-modal through ticketing travel - some airlines on business routes already give their passengers travel tickets for use in the destination city, they do this because they know that it makes life easier for business people on busy schedules by saving them time and hassle on arrival at their destination.
Experience in London has proven that multi-modal ticketing attracts passengers.
For many years public transport use in London was in decline. Almost every journey required a separate ticket and although period tickets were available they operated on a direct 'point to point' (nominated station) basis with little interavailability between the modes. This changed with the introduction of the Travelcard which allows passengers to travel as much as they like by almost all rail and bus transports but only pay once. The London Travelcard is a zonal pay-once and then ride-at-will period ticket that is based on daily / weekly / longer time frames.
Within a few years of its introduction transport experts recognised that by changing the ticketing system the resulting increase in passenger levels more than covered any possible loss in fare receipts caused by passengers not paying separate fares. Furthermore, the resulting reduction of time it took passengers to board buses and show their passes - instead of fumbling in their pockets / purses to find the cash to pay the fare - helped improve bus service reliability by reducing the delays that are synonymous with pay on entry buses.
Amazingly the Travelcard almost did not happen - in 1983 the dedicated left-wing leader of the Greater London Council (Ken Livingstone) faced much opposition to bring the scheme into being - at one stage even taking London Transport to court to force them to implement this new ticketing system. When in 1986 the right-wing national Government abolished the Greater London Council it took much public lobbying before the Travelcard's retention was assured - the Government wanted to replace it with a stored-value card where the value of each and every individual journey is deducted separately. This would have killed the "pay a flat fare just the once and then ride at will" aspect that makes the Travelcard so successful. Even now (this update was written in July 2014) it is plausible that at a future date the switch to electronic smartcard ticketing systems using bank debit and credit cards (rather than specialist transport smartcards) may yet result in this happening - see below.
London's Three Fares Scales.
Passengers not using a pay once / ride at will Travelcard are still able to pay for train journeys individually, although it is usually significantly less expensive to do so using the electronic Oyster ticketing system (as described on Fares page 2 ) than by paying cash. Cash fares are not accepted on the buses.
Unlike many cities in the developed world, London's buses and trains have very different fare systems, with the various railway networks being further sub-divided between those controlled by the local government body Transport for London (TfL) ie: the Underground, London Overground & the Docklands Light Railway (DLR) and the other railway services.
London's railway system is split into 6 fares zones (plus 3 outside of London / to the north of the city) and although for passengers using prepaid season tickets known as Travelcards the fares are harmonised within the zones - so that it does not matter which railway service a passenger uses, different fares are charged for individual single ticket journeys depending on whether a person is using railway services where TfL set the fares or a mainline railway train operating company (TOC) sets the fares. (Where the Underground and mainline railways serve the same transport corridors the fares are mostly harmonised with tickets being valid on any service; trams use a slightly modified bus fare scale - see below). In other words, passengers without prepaid day or season tickets travelling on the mainline railway are financially penalised because (as a general theme) they are charged different (typically higher) fares than if the journey had been possible on an Underground / Overground / DLR service. This applies even when exactly the same fares zones are being travelled through.
In sharp contrast to the railways, London's buses charge a simple flat fare, for (virtually) any journey, of any length, within zones 1-6. (Some journeys outside of the London local government / political area are charged differently). Because the buses treat London as just one large fare zone so bus passengers are permitted to use all Travelcards throughout London, irrespective of the advertised zone(s) of validity. On Croydon's Tramlink Travelcards are accepted only if they are valid in any one (or more) of railway zones 3,4,5 or 6, these being the zones through Tramlink services are operated.
Unlike many North American & European cities there is no facility to transfer to a second bus (or other mode of transport) if this is required to complete an overall journey - effectively this means that in London passengers who need to interchange en route must pay a second fare to continue their journey. Slightly different arrangements apply to Croydon Tramlink feeder buses. However, passengers using the electronic Oyster ticketing benefit from an arrangement whereby after four bus journeys no more bus fares are charged during that day - but only if their Oyster card has a positive cash value in the Pay-As-You-Go electronic purse. (Oyster is looked at in the Oyster Smart Card section on Fares page 2).
There are also innovatively shaped light-bulb shaped pre-pay bus tickets which until September 2008 could be bought from local shops, travel information offices and underground stations. These were sold in 'books' of six at a price which was heavily discounted when compared to tickets bought at bus stop ticket machines or (where permitted) from the driver when boarding a bus. The individual tickets within each book could be given to family and friends, with each ticket being for one person to make one journey, without transfer. Despite no longer being available to buy these tickets are still accepted as a form of payment for bus fares (but not on the trams). Nowadays passengers are encouraged to use the electronic Oyster ticketing system.
London's transport chiefs freely admit that rail fares are being pushed up much higher than bus fares in order to encourage modal shift out of private cars / away from overcrowded trains - and on to the buses. They also say that another reason for higher rail fares is that the train operators have to cover the infrastructure costs of the system - whereas buses use the public highway where local and national governments cover the infrastructure costs.
Fares for children vary depending on whether they are under 5, 6-10, 11-15 or 16+, travelling by bus, TfL controlled rail services or other rail services, how many children are travelling, whether with an adult, whether they have a special child photocard and specially enabled Oyster card, where they live (in London?) and even if they have misbehaved whilst on the public transport and had their child privileges withdrawn!
Cash fares Not Accepted On London's Buses.
To reduce the time buses spend at bus stops and reduce operating costs since 6th July 2014 cash fares have not been accepted on London's buses. Instead passengers without Travelcard season tickets (of any type) must pay their fares using either monetary value stored on their Oyster smart cards or bank debit / credit contactless cards.
Visitors to London from overseas may find that whilst their contactless credit / debit cards will also work on the buses, their banks may levy very expensive overseas transaction fees and charges on top of the bus fare.
It is claimed that with about 0.7% of bus passengers paying fares using cash it is not financial viable to accept their money, especially when the cost of handling the cash is also taken in to account. However with approximately 60,000 cash transactions being made on a daily basis there is a concern that many vulnerable people will suffer. This includes people with mental health problems and late night travellers who do not have bank the right type of credit / debit cards and are in rural areas where there are no retail shops where cash value can be added Oyster smart cards. For these scenarios bus drivers are advised to show discretion. The thinking is that whilst social reasons will suggest that the passenger cannot be left to walk it will be cheaper to provide free travel than accept fares paid in cash. Included in the reasons why some people chose to pay cash is that they had forgotten their plastic cards and that despite the fact that the fares charged were considerably higher when paid in cash many people going for a night out "clubbing" (dancing, drinking too much alcohol, etc) purposely would leave valuables (including all plastic cards) at home so as to avoid the possibility of theft.
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2011 pay-once 'ride-at-will' Travelcard Retrenchment.
As part of the 2011 fares revision some types of Travelcard zonal combinations were withdrawn, with the cited reason being that not enough people were using them. In every case the changes have seen significant fares increases for those passengers who did use them. Whilst most of the zonal combinations are still available for passengers who use the electronic smartcard ticketing this is a very different travel product, as described on Fares page 2.
Another part of the policy of using higher charges to wean passengers away from paper ticketing the ability to purchase paper one-day Travelcard tickets was very significantly curtailed, with the network of local shops called Ticket Stops no longer selling them. No doubt the reduced availability will result in reduced sales - so that within a few years their lack of use can be cited as a reason to completely kill-off the one-day version of the Travelcard.
To further discourage their purchase, in 2013 the cost of paper one-day Travelcards was raised with a deliberate aim of encouraging passengers to use the electronic ticketing and its maximum daily fare system instead. However this ticketing option is a different solution which operates in significantly different ways and although actual fares are claimed to be 30p - 50p lower than the cost of a paper one-day Travelcard (depending on how many zones the ticket covers) the reality is that passengers can find themselves being charged significantly more than one-day Travelcards without understanding why / or even being at fault. It may yet require a passenger who has been caught out in this way to become involved in a court case where the theme is that the electronic ticketing is not fit for purpose to ensure the survival of the paper one-day pay once / ride-at-will Travelcard.
Information Gained Using Freedom Of Information Legislation Reveals
This simple cross-platform interchange was purposely designed to make life easier for passengers but in the 1990's some "experts" suggested stifling this sort of free transfer between underground and
mainline trains by splitting the platforms down the middle and forcing interchanging passengers to pass through a ticket barrier.
Homeward passengers scurry to catch a train which awaits them on the other platform at Stratford station, London, see text left and below for further information.
A short film showing cross-platform interchange at this station has been placed on the 'youtube' file-sharing website and can be watched (in a new window) by clicking either the projector icon or this link http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qYm-SwQrl8E.
The film starts with passengers boarding the mainline train whilst the underground train enters the station and then once it has stopped and the doors have opened some passengers can be seen rushing to make the interchange. Also of note is that because the interchange is not guaranteed by the timetable so in an effort to keep it running to time the train despatcher gets the mainline train away 'very sharply'.
Will Bank Card Pin Code Woes Cause Plans To Change?
So far (July 2014) the use of bank credit and debit cards has only been enabled on the buses. One pitfall which is yet to be resolved is that once in a while the security software in the contactless credit / debit card will require that the next transaction is validated with the pin code; since this is not possible when paying fares on buses or passing through station ticket gates it could be the passenger will have to either find an alternative way to pay their fare or, to validate their card, make a purchase in a retail shop and then travel.
Since this requirement to validate credit / debit cards would prevent a passenger from passing through a ticket gate to end a rail journey so a work-around solution very much needs to be found before these cards start being used on the railways. Quite why this situation has arisen remains to be seen...
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In Europe public transport is seen as a social service which exists for the common good. For this reason it is usual for fares to be subsidised - especially ride-at-will season and day tickets - as part of environmental programmes designed to encourage more public transport usage. In Britain we have a very different approach; here the transport is seen as just another business that exists to make a profit and pay dividends to shareholders - it is just 'coincidental' that the main activity of the companies involved is passenger transport. Britain also differs on investment policy as the government will only allow investment in transports that will be profitable enough to both pay their way and raise sufficient funds to repay their construction costs. No matter how socially beneficial the investment might be.
In many European towns and cities it is normal for passengers to be expected to buy their tickets in advance of travel. Often this can be done from self-service ticket vending machines located at the bus / tram stops or railway station entrance. However even though in many European countries the bus (etc.,) stops are typically further apart than here in Britain, so relatively fewer machines would be required. Installing and maintaining these machines does still require a major financial investment. Usually ticket machines will accept payment by coin - albeit not always the lowest value coins - sometimes also it is possible to pay by plastic card and or paper money. Sometimes the automated ticket vending machines will run out of change, so that people buying tickets must either pay with the correct money or accept that if they overpay (pay too much) then they will effectively be making a donation of the surplus funds to the transport operator. It is rare for these ticket machines to offer credit notes which can be redeemed at a transport authority's enquiry office at a later time.
In addition to automated vending machines it is also usual for tickets to be available at other locations too, such as newsagents / other local shops, staffed ticket sales windows at local urban railway stations (less likely with long distance railway stations) and the transport operator's enquiry offices in the city centre - if they have any. Some airlines / the Eurostar Channel Tunnel railway service and hotels will sell local area transport tickets to their patrons too - typically with airlines / Eurostar this will only be for the destinations they serve / to which that journey is travelling. In Germany one hotel chain even includes free travel on the local transports as part of the accommodation package.
The reason for encouraging advance purchase / off-vehicle ticket sales is that for street-based transport the system whereby passengers must queue to enter and pay the driver is known to cause significant delay to the transport service. It is not for nothing that pay-on-entry buses are also known as mobile traffic jams. Therefore in many towns and cities the driver will not sell tickets, or if (s)he does they will be at a higher price than if they had been bought in advance of travel. Many railway operators usually also encourage the advance purchase of travel tickets, although usually with these the train driver's responsibilities will not extend to any aspects of the ticketing system.
In some areas street-based ticket vending machines are frequently attacked by thieves looking for an easy source of cash. This represents a severe problem for transport operators. Different cities have adopted different solutions to this, with the solutions including placing the ticket machines inside the vehicle, reintroducing the age old conductor (sometimes affectionately also known as a clippie) who travels on the bus or tram collecting fares, or simply relying on the other ticket sales options, as detailed above. This latter option can result in would be passengers being unable to travel for want of finding somewhere where they can buy a ticket.
The locating of ticket vending machines inside the transports will often represent a cost-effective solution for the transport operator as typically there are far fewer vehicles than street-based bus / tram stops. However if these machines develop a fault or run out of change so that the passenger cannot buy their ticket then whether or not it is permitted they will probably just travel for free.
|This machine is typical of those found in many parts of Germany / other towns and cities globally.
Located at a light rail stop this example issues a wide range of paper tickets which typically will need validating before use.
Image & license: LosHawlos / Wikipedia encyclopædia. CC BY-SA 3.0
|This Tokyo Metro machine accepts tickets and cash to allow passengers who have travelled beyond the tickets' area of validity to pay the balance before going through the station exit turnstiles.
(Admittedly not from Europe but still of very much related interest).
Image & license: / Wikipedia encyclopædia. Public domain.
|A ticket machine (and ticket validator) located by the rear doors of an articulated trolleybus in Vevey, Switzerland.||Touch-screen multi-modal ticket vending machine at a metro station in Lyon, France. This machine sells a range of same-fare tickets which can be used on the metro, trams, buses and funiculars.
Trams are not included in the list because this photograph was taken before the tram system opened.
Usually advance purchase tickets will require validating before use. This entails (partially) inserting them into a machine that stamps a date, time & location marker which a roving inspector can read to ensure its validity. Locations for these validators vary from city to city but for services in the street environment they will either be the at bus / tram stops or on the vehicles, whilst for trains - and trams / light rail operating in off-street railway mode - the ticket validators will usually be at the entrance to the station platform. However, in all situations passengers caught without validated tickets can expect to pay a high penalty fare.
|In Amsterdam Holland, fares evasion became so bad that most trams now carry conductors who also sell tickets and along with the tram drivers check the tickets of passengers as they board.
Several British tram systems also use conductors, but here in Britain our conductors walk up and down the tram collecting fares, checking tickets and dispensing travel advice.
|Ticket validators on a tram in Brussels, Belgium.
This image was taken in summer 2009 during the transition period when magnetic stripe tickets (which use the validator on the right) were being replaced with electronic smart card RFID ticketing (using the validator on the left).
|Other cities locate the ticket validators outside the vehicles, such as the tramstop platform (as here). This means the that passengers cannot hurriedly validate their tickets if they see roving ticket inspectors at work on their tram. Note how the 'next service' tram stop information display includes a reminder that tickets must be validated before boarding - even when interchanging between buses and or trams (or travelling on a day ticket) they must still be re-validated before boarding the second tram. These images come from Strasbourg in France.|
|To avoid the traffic jam on wheels effect some European transport systems encourage passengers to board / alight at all doorways.
This image has been sourced from S-VHS-C videotape and the larger clickable version is a little fuzzy.
|A sign on a bus (in Geneva, Switzerland) advising passengers that entry is restricted to pre-paid ticket holders only.|
There are two video clips showing different aspects of this type of fares system.
* This link will download a 53 second video clip named 'Bus-all-doors320.mpg' showing passengers using all the doors to board and alight from the trolleybus (of an older high floor design) as seen in the image above left and a new low floor trolleybus not otherwise seen on this page.
* This link will download a 73 second video clip named 'Boarding-Bus-Laying-Over-At-Terminus320.mpg' showing passengers boarding a low floor trolleybus which is at its city centre terminus and waiting the next journey out to the suburbs. Whilst similar actions would be considered 'normal' for trains and trams, one of the purposes here is to show that with the 'right' ticketing system similar is possible with buses too!
An example of an underground station showing how the ticket validators are located immediately before the access to the platforms (in this case escalators and steps down).
This image comes from Essen in Germany, and although this station is served by light rail / trams the principle is the same for all other types of railway. For a while Essen also operated trolleybuses through part of its underground system, and whilst underground the trolleybuses used the same ticketing system as the light rail.
|This driver's position on a Karlsruhe, Germany long distance / regional light rail vehicle includes a window and cash handling chute in the door between the passenger saloon and driver's cab. These vehicles also include self-service ticket machines (not shown).||Zürich, a ticket sales booth at a busy tramstop.
These sell a full range of tickets.
Zürich, Switzerland is one of Europes' most prosperous cities with a very high rate of car ownership. And with over 50% of all travel being by public transport it is also fêted as having the most successful urban transport in Europe. As such it is living proof that where there is high-quality, closely integrated and reliable fixed-infrastructure transport even wealthy car-owners will choose to use it.
Although part of this success is based on the types of transports used (electric trains, trams and trolleybuses - motorbuses are banished to out-of-town rural services) what binds everything together is the ticketing system.
The overriding philosophy is to encourage passengers to buy advance purchase period and multiple-trip tickets by heavily subsiding them when compared to the cost of a single ticket such as is bought for immediate travel. This is primarily because once a person has a valid ticket they are more inclined to use it again and again, instead of going by car. These tickets are also cheaper for the transport operator (less cash to handle, less ticket card stock used, etc.,) and the savings are passed back to the ticket holder.
In Zürich most tickets are just entitlements to travel, this means they are fully shareable between friends and family, as long as only one person is using it at a time. However, if lost they cannot be replaced. Some of the more expensive period tickets can also be personalised - although restricted to the holder only these can be replaced if lost.
In Zürich tickets are easily available from a wide range of outlets including combined ticket sales & validating machines located at every stop, newsagents, local shops, hotels, railway stations and special staffed 'ticket here' booths located at a few very busy stops around the city. (as illustrated).
Once validated - done before boarding the vehicle - even standard single fare tickets allow the holder to travel at will (ie: make multiple journeys). This means that for no extra cost it is possible to break your journey, perhaps to do some shopping, and even make a return trip, providing all travelling is completed within a time limit. The only exception is with the short journey ticket which is designed for a single journey of only a couple of stops.
For twice the price a standard single fare ticket becomes a 24-hour ride-at-will ticket; but unlike the day rover tickets available in many British cities which expire at midnight, in Zürich these last a full 24 hours (ie: validated at 11am, expires at 10.59am the next day) - so you get your full money's worth.
Zürich has not forgotten the needs of less frequent passengers and to encourage them to use the transport there are several types of multiple fare tickets which are bought in advance (from staffed ticket sales locations only) and provide the equivalent of six individual tickets more cheaply than if bought individually. These too are also fully transferable between family and friends, and can even be used by several people travelling at the same time as long as the correct number of journeys (on the ticket) are validated - and everyone travels together as one group.
To encourage young adults who might also be thinking of buying cars to continue using the public transports people aged under 25 can buy certain types of the advance purchase multiple fare and season tickets at reduced (child) rates; this is done because this is a most important age group who would be in the process of forming habits that will last a lifetime - and the desire is to encourage them to form the habit of using public transport! Users of these tickets are very strongly recommended to carry proof of age with them when they travel (to show the roving ticket inspectors).
As in many cities roving ticket inspectors patrol the system and there are steep fines for travellers who cannot show a valid ticket. At the time this text was first written (September 2004) the fines were 60 Francs (approximately £28) for immediate cash payment or 80 Francs (approximately £38) for payment by invoice - with legal action for non payers. However holders of personalised season tickets have the option of showing it later - together with the penalty receipt and receiving the fine refunded, less a five Swiss Francs (approximately £2.35) handling fee.
By 2013 the fall in value of the British Pound has seen even the Sterling values quoted above rise significantly to approximately £44 / £58 / £3.65. It is also likely that the fines - as quoted in Swiss Francs - have also changed.
North American Ticketing.
Some North American systems use the fare box system where the driver collects fares (or pre-paid tokens) in a box to which they do not have access. This is safer for them, but also means that the passenger must tender the correct fare as it is not possible to give ('make') change. Interestingly, the land of free enterprise and market forces uses a very different philosophy on its public transport. Competition is strictly between public transportation per se and the private car ('automobile'). The transports do not compete within themselves! Fares are heavily subsidised, many cities have flat fares which means that everyone pays the same irrespective of how far they are travelling.
If the passenger knows that their journey will require a change of vehicle en route then when starting that journey they can ask for a transfer which will enable the interchange to be made at minimal or no extra cost. However transfers are not usually required for locations where the whole interchange area forms part of the fares paid zone. An example of this is seen at this subway station (from Toronto, Canada) where new passengers entering the system from the street must first pass the ticket barrier in the usual way and then have a choice of going downstairs to the subway or staying at street level for the streetcars or buses. Walking straight from the (street) footpath to the bus / streetcar waiting / boarding area is treated as fare dodging.
Toronto's suburban GO (Government of Ontario) rail system has a novel solution for reducing fare evasion by single-fare cash ticket holders. These tickets specify which train they can be used on - usually the next one - so even if a ticket is not checked en route it cannot be used to make multiple journeys.
Some North American cities use metal tokens as subway tickets - these are often available in multiple at a discounted rate and are inserted into the turnstile / ticket barrier when entering the station. This solution is only suitable for systems where there are flat fares, which means that passengers pay the same irrespective of distance travelled, or the time of day. New York was famed for its use of tokens, and even though they have now been replaced they still remain in NYC folklore.
|Toronto streetcar outside a suburban subway station.
See main text above for picture information.
|Ticket machine flanked by validators in Portland, Oregon, USA. Similar machines can be found in many cities globally. They are easy to use, often accept paper money, coins and plastic cards plus give ("make" in US 'English') change.|
|Obverse and reverse sides of single-ride token for the Toronto Transit Commission. This design of token was introduced in November 2006.
Image & license: Saforrest / Wikipedia encyclopædia. CC BY-SA 3.0
|A Toronto Transit Commission transfer ticket. These must be obtained at the station of departure / at the commencement of a journey and entitle the holder to switch from one mode of transit to another without
having to pay an additional fare. They are not necessary for transfers made at stations where the bus / streetcar (tram) are within the fares paid area.
The transfer seen here was sourced at the North York Centre subway station.
Image & license: Wikipedia encyclopædia. Public Domain.
Other Ticketing Systems.
Free Fare Zones.
Some cities also have free travel (ie: fare less, no charge) zones over part of their systems - usually this will be the city centre core (CBD). Part of the idea will be to encourage city (office) workers, etc., not to use their cars when travelling about the city centre. Such zones often benefit local traders because people will take advantage of the free travel and visit local stores for their shopping instead of using car-based out of town shops.
The argument against these free travel zones is that car commuters end up not paying for the transport, while those people who use public transport to commute will have season tickets which already provide them with city centre travel at no extra cost.
Bus drivers also report that not asking boarding passengers for money reduces passenger aggression, as the principle cause of attacks on bus drivers stems from the collection of fares as the passengers board the bus. However this must be countered by issues with passengers who board these buses within the free travel zone and then ride beyond its limits, for free.
In some towns and cities an alternative way of doing things sees the operating of dedicated higher-profile free services whilst everything else charges as per normal.
Click the speaker symbol or here to download a 150kb soundclip (named Calgary.mp3) which was sourced from a video clip and is of a next station announcement that also tells passengers that the free fares zone ends at the next station.
When in September 2012 the American city of Portland in Oregon abolished the free travel zone on its MAX light railway patronage fell by about 8.5% from an average of 129600 ppd (passengers per day) to 118500 ppd. The downtown Fareless Square had been in operation for 37 years (since 1975) and included MAX from its opening in 1986. The ending of free travel was included as part of systemwide cost-cutting measures which also saw all fare zones being merged into one, with most MAX travel tickets now being valid for all journeys, including a change of transport mode and even a return journey as long as they commence within a preset time limit.
For the sake of completeness, in January 2010 Fareless Square was renamed the Free Rail Zone concurrent with the ending of free travel on buses.
Some cities use scratch card tickets which are not valid until the passenger has scratched over the sections for the day, date, times etc. Of course, if they make a mistake (ie; get the date wrong - a simple but common error) then the card is effectively voided. And the money wasted. Some cities have found that scratch card tickets offer much potential for fraud - very easy to use unvalidated - and are incompatible with electronic gates which require an ability to read a ticket before allowing its holder to pass.
Pay before boarding.
In South America some cities speed up their bus rapid transit (BRT) services by requiring passengers to pay their fare when arriving at the bus stop, so that when the bus arrives they can board it without the usual delays. In some cities - such as Curitiba, Brazil, as seen here - they use these visually distinctive high-platform street-based tubular bus stops which are served by buses equipped with folding ramps that provide level access with the bus stop platform.
A Curitiba, Brazil, double-articulated bus calls at a 'tube-style' bus stop.
|To help minimize stop dwell times and speed the service passengers pay their fares on entry to the bus stop.
Once inside the fares paid area passengers can interchange to other services at no extra cost.
|Rapid boarding and alighting is facilitated by step-plates which bridge the gap to the platform and are lowered from the bus once it has docked.|
For many years some Asian cities used stored value tickets which featured magnetic stripes on to which a certain monetary value would be loaded by the transport operator. When using these tickets the cost of each journey would be deducted as the passenger left the exit ticket barrier. To prevent problems the last journey could usually be made irrespective of the value remaining on the ticket, which the exit turnstile would then retain, in the process also helping to prevent used tickets from being discarded in a way that created litter. Often these were plastic tickets which once spent would be reprogrammed for re-use.
These stored value tickets also allow(ed) for different fares to be charged at different times, as some places (for instance, Hong Kong) charge higher fares for travel in the peak hours.
Advances in technology have made this ticketing system ever more popular with transport operators, albeit with a significant change in that the monetary value is now held as an electronic purse on silicon chips.
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