Tag Archives: fares

Rich man’s toys

Our dear Secretary of State for Transport Philip Hammond said something to the House of Commons Transport Select Committee yesterday, and the BBC decided that it was The News. I don’t think Hammond had intended for it to be The News. He said:

It’s an uncomfortable fact that the railway is already, relatively, a rich man’s toy*. The whole railway. People who use the railway, on average, have significantly higher incomes than the population as a whole. Simple fact. The assumptions underlying the pattern of use of HS2 assume similar pricing to the West Coast Main Line, which ranges from eye-wateringly expensive to really quite reasonable if you dig around and buy in advance. And therefore the assumption that the socio-economic mix of passengers will be broadly similar to those currently using the West Coast Main Line.

Nobody is really commenting on the fact that Hammond was not merely saying that people are priced off the railways, but that it doesn’t matter if people are priced off HS2 because they’re already priced off the railways. I would have thought that The News would have wanted to play up the HS2 connection.

But people are questioning whether it’s really true that train users are rich. It sounds like a convenient setup for bashing railways and promoting roads: the poor can’t afford to use railways, therefore anybody who wants decent, affordable railways is an enemy of the poor. Spend all the money on more road subsidies investment and fuel tax cuts instead.

I’m afraid it’s true. The National Travel Survey gives us information on modal usage and split by income quintile for a sample of the population:


(image nicked from Fairness in a car dependent society [PDF])

The railways really are being used by the rich a lot more than by the poor** — about four times as much.


(image nicked from the centre for cities)

5% of those in the highest income group use rail as their main transport mode, compared to 2% for those in the lowest income group.*** But, wait, there’s another difference between those two groups, isn’t there? It turns out that the motor car is a rich person’s toy too. Poop- poop!

But the NTS reveals something else:

(image nicked from Harry Rutter’s Street Talk)

Travel is a rich person’s toy, and that makes better employment opportunities and services a rich person’s toy.

One of the best ways to overcome that is to invest in local transport, and in local transport that anybody can afford and always will be able to afford; the sort of local transport that will stimulate town centre renewal rather than further drive decline. The bicycle, for example.

Of course, Hammond thinks that investment in transport for the rich is good for all of us: the company director who jumps on HS2 for the Channel Tunnel or Heathrow will be employing lots of people at all levels in Manchester or Leeds. Allegedly. I suspect he’s maybe more likely to be visiting his contractors in the far east, or his accountant in Switzerland.

* This was a quote from the question he had been asked by Julie Hilling, in turn a slogan used by the anti-HS2 campaigners.

** Yes, “the railways really are being used by the rich a lot more than by the poor” is subtly different to Hammond’s claim that “people who use the railway, on average, have significantly higher incomes than the population as a whole” — the former is about distance, the latter about users. One rich person doing the length of the UK would, by my metric, have used the railway considerably more than a dozen poor people popping into their town centres. If you can find better data, do share.

*** Thanks to Tom for pointing out the mistake in original wording here.

Advertisements

Weekly War Bulletin, 1 Jan

A rollover bulletin…

Apparently some people had holiday journeys disrupted by snow?  The civil servants are having fun suggesting technical solutions to the third-rail problem — some more expensive than others.  (Not that the overhead-electric east coast route did any better: the lines came down under the weight of ice; I have vague memories of being told that the line was built with a larger than recommended distance between gantries to save money, in the knowledge that this would mean the cables would fall down more readily.)  Guess it’ll be another fares hike to pay for that, if it ever happens, then.  Can’t have anyone suggesting that we should instead be investing in arranging our lives and economy in a less mobility-reliant way.  Meanwhile, from his bunker, the mayor boasted about London’s resilient transport network even as it predictably ground to a halt.

The weather turned out to be awfully convenient for SouthEastern, who, having called an emergency and cancelled their trains, had the snow days struck from their performance records and subsequently just happened to meet their targets by the tiniest sliver, thus avoiding compensating season ticket holders.

Philip Hammond’s Department for Transport don’t care about the thousands of known dangerous drivers on the roads.  Our judges seem to think that it’s their job to facilitate the truck driver training careers of convicted road-rage attackers.  And the police seem to think that pushing somebody under an oncoming vehicle is fine if they’re a cyclist.  That’s The War On The Motorist, that is.  Just compare the authorities’ actions to those in The War On Drugs.

And the latest reform of road safety initiatives mean that you will no-longer get fined if you only go 10%+9mph over the limit — because what harm could you possibly do at 41 in a built-up area?  As one Daily Mail reader points out, this is “yet another money-gouging racket at the motorist’s expense”.

The Western Extension Zone is no more: Boris promised to obey the people’s will, and 41% of people wanted the WEZ to go, so the numerically challenged mayor (elected by the will of 24.1% of the electorate) obeyed.  The removal of the WEZ, and loss of its £55m revenue, will be funded by the £60m raised by another bus fare hike.

It’s time for those fares increases.  Up to £5,000 season tickets on some routes — though frankly, if you find yourself in the situation where you need to do a £5,000 commute, I think you might be doing something wrong.  Predictions are for a shift from rail to private car,

Fuel duty and VAT also go up this week, though, so it’s still a good time to leave the car behind.  The Express are desperately trying to stir up the resistance.  The Institute of Advanced Motorists is suggesting that, gasp, Motorists might be forced to drive at responsible speeds in order to save fuel, while RMI beg us please won’t somebody think of the petrol stations?

Fake ban on cycling to be enforced by fake police on the South Bank.

Government to publish data on where most people are recklessly breaking the law they are having greatest success at bleeding the poor innocent hard done-by Motorist dry. (c) All Newspapers.

Awww.  Poor Motorists can’t even terrorise sick people by taking short-cuts through hospital car parks without getting hassle some jobsworth.  It’s The War On The Motorist, I tell you.

Absurd solution of the week: Maria Eagle thinks we should pay Motorists not to break the law.  I think there is great potential here for basing all of post-New Labour’s manifesto on this concept.

Speaking of absurd transport solutions, last Bulletin we noted that the absurd Royal Docks cable car would not be entirely privately funded as Boris had originally promised.  Now our suspicions have been confirmed: upon further investigation, estimated costs jump from £25m to £40m, and there is no chance of being built before the mayor’s Olympic deadline.

Could we please drop this folly now and divert the money to keeping our existing river crossings open?  Greenwich Tunnel, the nearest existing crossing (excluding tubes and the motor-only Blackwall Tunnel), is plagued by unscheduled closures due to maintenance problems, with the council and contractors providing a customer service that they surely learnt from SouthEastern.

People got to travel on the tube for free last night, courtesy of a loans company that charges 2,689% interest.  When grilled by LBC, Boris called it extortion, as he happily took the money that they had obtained by extortion.

Humankind has reached the stage where it has developed computers that can be aware of the emotional state of the people using them.  What noble purpose should we find for this technology?  Satnavs that don’t upset their poor sensitive drivers, of course.  Somebody get one for this guy.

Following the earlier news that ELL passenger numbers have risen fast, and the recent introduction of the full timetable, Ian Brown — the man who organised London Overground and had great visions for the public takeover of all suburban rail in London under TfL — is honoured.

Tory campaigners are trying to distract from Boris Johnson’s failure to resolve the problems that unions are striking over by accusing the unions of calling strikes merely to make the mayor look bad.

That Oxford coach that turned over on the motorway? A drunk passenger done it.

The police have been visiting the people selling stolen bikes at Brick Lane.

Careful now.  Cabbies have learned dozens of new ways to kill you.

More plans for congestion relief at Bank.

New York consider adding bicycle training to their driving test.

This “news” is written by “Ian Onions”, which is a delightful combination of syllables.

Weekly War Bulletin, 11 Dec

Ken Livingstone has picked Val Shawcross as running partner.  Val chairs the assembly transport committee and has experience with both the outer and inner boroughs, so from a transport perspective, she’s probably the best person for the job.  She wants people to get out of their cars (including Olympics VIPs).  It’s worrying, though, that despite commissioning the cycle superhighway survey and stating that she “wants to know what what would get you cycling”, she hasn’t quite acknowledged yet that the result of the survey was a massive call for proper cycle paths.

The Scottish Transport Minister, Stewart Stevenson, resigned for his slow response to the snow.  By his criteria, Boris would have resigned several times over by now.  Truck drivers in Scotland have been allowed to work overtime — because safety rules matter less when it’s icy?  Of course, making sure that petrol stations have supplies is more important than preventing overworked truckers driving into a fuel tanker.

And according to BBC News, SouthEastern management have made up for all their snow-related customer service failings by, erm, turning up to their long-scheduled recurring meeting with passengers.  No resignations (or franchise forfeit) there, yet, then?

There are no drink-driving TV adverts this year — after all, the government has ended the War On The Motorist!  In Oxford, the annual police operation has caught twice as many wannabe killers as last year.  (I’d be cautious about concluding that one caused the other on such a small and non-controlled sample, though.)

Absurd innovation of week: yet another device to allow Motorists to pay less attention.

South Yorkshire are “trialling” a speed camera switch off.  Uh, haven’t we done enough “trials” to know what happens there?

And in South Wales, Motorists demonstrate their contempt for the lives of the people who are building roads for them.

There are record numbers riding the railways in London — but for how much longer?

While it’s hard to give a damn about car parking charge increases when you don’t have a car, it does seem unfortunate that the rising price of station car parking (at the same time as 13% p.a. fares hikes) appears to be making people give up the train rather than the car — one in four say they’re considering switching.

And a government adviser’s report suggests that we can cut overcrowding, by, erm, charging much more to use overcrowded trains.

Labour are reconsidering high speed rail, while the Tories are promising to keep those Tory voters along its route happy with fabulous cash payouts.

The Campaign for Clean Air in London are threatening to challenge Boris in court over the removal of the Western Extension Congestion Charge Zone.  Waste of public money if it goes to court?  No news outlet I can find mentions the massive EU penalties for poor air quality (many times the cost of a court case), or the vast numbers (much greater than direct road deaths) of otherwise economically-active people who are disabled and killed by pollution-related diseases.  Meanwhile our own Green MEPs are encouraging the EU to reject the mayor’s application for an extension to the deadline for complying with those air quality laws.

That runaway Northern Line train was both human error and faulty equipment.

The Met are looking at thousands of people’s Oyster records behind their backs.

Having cut back on customer services, SouthEastern are looking for more staff savings: look forward to strike action in the new year.

Somebody’s stealing the pavements in Camden.

Apparently a couple in a ridiculous chauffeur driven car got viciously attacked by a mob of rioting thugs?  They should have ridden inconspicuous hire bikes to their appointment…

“Grannies don’t like being thrown around”: cuts to pensioner bus travel will mean dedicated crap bus services for them.

(I’m late to this story, but had to post it.)  Ferrari driver who “unwittingly” drove around at 100mph is allowed to continue driving because he is reliant upon the car for his hospital treatment.  Apparently ferrari owners can’t afford bus fares, and they don’t have taxis in Devon…

And for some reason not allowing blue badge holders to use the olympic lanes is considered an outrage too far.  How will builders get to their jobs now?

The RV1 riverside bus has gone hydrogen powered, in order to test the technology.  The hydrogen production requires electricity, and the electricity is still mostly generated by burning coal and gas.  It might at least reduce the particulate pollution given off by these vehicles (or shift them back to the out-of-town power station, anyway).

Here’s an updated tube map for the day London goes under the waves.

I don’t often cover news outside of the UK, but: this is just how they drive in China; and this story from NZ made me giggle — they seem surprised that building a new motorway caused congestion.  Has NZ learned nothing from the mistakes that Europe made forty years ago?

Your moment of zen: the mayor’s Christmas card:

I took the opportunity to pen a few lines on this occasion.

We three kings of Orient are,
One in a taxi, one in a car,
One on a Boris Bike beating the tube strike,
None of them getting far.

Weekly War Bulletin, 27 Nov

The Evening Standard learn that only 1 in 3 hire bike users are women and then dictate that this is because women are scared and don’t want to get sweaty.  Of course.  Not because men are too scared to commit to buying a bicycle of their own, or because all the men’s own bicycles are broken and they’re too embarrassed to take them to the workshop and admit that they can’t fix them, or because men want to be able to ride sitting upright and with a basket without being called a girl, or because women with their frivolous romantic novels about wealthy gentlemen and swooning ladies enjoy taking the train while men with their very important spreadsheets and reports don’t.  In gender asymmetries there’s always something wrong with the women, and it’s just obvious that this has something to do with fear and sweat.  Right, Evening Standard?

The hire bikes will finally open to spontaneous unregistered users next week, months over schedule (but a few weeks earlier than the xmas prediction that we were last given from TfL).

The London Cycling Campaign step in to timidly ask the question we’ve all been asking: er, should the hardened criminal killer of Catriona Patel really have been free to drive his truck over the cyclist in the first place?

The big news this week, though, has been all the wonderful things that the coalition are doing for the railways!  (Nobody mention that these are merely the few Labour rail projects that the Tories are not cutting.)  Thameslink goes ahead in full (nobody mention that the Tories will make it eighteen years late rather than sixteen), the Paddington lines will be electrified to Dave, Gideon, and Phil’s old home, Oxford (nobody mention that the Tories will drop the electrification further down to Bristol, Cardiff, and Swansea), there will be hundreds of new carriages (nobody mention that the Tories will order fewer and later).  Thanks, Tories!  The amount of cash saved will probably almost pay for the overspend on the futile M25 congestion relief work.

ATOC didn’t do quite so well at disguising their bad news: despite their best efforts to cover up, the media spotted that there was going to be another massively above inflation rail fares hike this new year.

Meanwhile, Virgin Trains, they of the chronically overcrowded WCML, are apparently holding new carriages hostage, demanding a franchise extension as ransom before they will extend their trains.

And Network Rail have cut £200m costs.  The directors must deserve another £200m in bonuses for that.

Rural bus services might also suffer from fares fiddling.

It’s just too dangerous to ride a bicycle in London.  It is if you’re the deputy prime-minister, anyway: Nick has to take the ministerial car to protect himself from missiles and hit men.

But boo hoo, local authorities want to raise the penalties for illegal parking, you know, to be an actual disincentive.

I thought everyone had already arranged to be on holiday during the Olympics, but apparently some people still haven’t been frightened off — so All Newspapers have been roped in to spread the word of the apocalyptic traffic chaos that will hit London.

This weekend, Oxford Street will be how it should always have been: pedestrians only.  Incidentally, this morning the postman turned up with a tatty copy of the 1963 Traffic in Towns (aka, The Buchanan Report to the Minister of Transport on the long term problems of traffic in urban areas), one of the earliest government documents to acknowledge that British towns and cities might not be able to comfortably accommodate widespread motor vehicle use.  Its author even in 1963 said that Oxford Street, “the most uncivilised street in Europe”, “epitomizes the conflict between traffic and environment”.  (Their solution is given at the bottom of this post.)

The helmetcam doesn’t lie: 88% of accidents involving cyclists in Australia are caused by bad motor vehicle drivers.

Cutting Cycling England wasn’t about cutting cycling: it was just about bringing it in-house to DfT, where it will be transparent and get the attention it deserves.  So nobody mention that the first CE-funded projects are going under.

Imagine if workmen knocked off early leaving the Blackwall or Rotherhithe tunnels closed without warning — the Standard would howl and the mayor would seek to fine the contractors.  Seems nobody cares when it’s the Greenwich or Woolwich foot tunnels, though.  Bath don’t seem to think that pedestrians and cyclists need alternative river crossings when their bridges are closed, either.

There’s a good chance of Bristol getting a citywide 20mph limit.  It’s a shame individual cities have to introduce this one-by-one at £500k a time, though.  Surely it would save on printing signs and cluttering the streets with them if we simply made 20 the default for built up areas…

Probably we will never ever see a weekend of full tube service; certainly not until 2012, though.

Got an old rusty bicycle that’s of no use?  Want to do your bit for the War On The Motorist?  Chain it to the railings outside MI6.  You’ll have all the roads in Vauxhall closed while they blow it up.

This is no more “news” than “tubes go on stike” or “rail fares rise”, but: yet another study says speed cameras save lives.

Twat leaves injured blind pensioner on the side of the street.  But the twat happened to be on a bicycle and the street happened to be a shared use de-motorized street: therefore all cyclists are dangerously selfish lycra louts -or- all shared use paths are dangerous.  Delete as applicable.  Obviously, no such conclusions can be drawn from somebody driving their car into a woman and leaving her to freeze to death in a Somerset ditch.

MP upsets constituents with bad parking-fine advice.  Apparently the Motorists were upset because they were caught by cameras that were designed to tackle anti-social behaviour.  Because middle-class crimes like blocking pavements, taking disabled parking bays, or leaving your car in the way of buses and ambulances are perfectly acceptable and social behaviours.  At least drink-driving is no longer acceptable to the middle-classes — if it’s a Labour MP doing the drink-driving, that is.

Here are the numbers on kids and roads: how many are forbidden from walking and cycling by their parents, and how many have been hit by cars.

One single police force are putting up billboards reminding Motorists how to drive.  As the comments thread points out, that’s the War On The Motorist, that is.

Some councils fill in potholes, some don’t.  How well does yours do?

Double yellow lines will “deter” car users from parking in Cambridge bike lanes.

Your moment of zen: from Traffic in Towns, a plan for the modernisation of Fitzrovia, including the Euston and Totenham Court Motorways, and the widening of Oxford Street to approximately 7 times its current width, for parking purposes:

And Virgin Trains, they of the chronically overcrowded WCML, are apparently holding new carriages hostage, demanding a franchise extension as ransom before they will extend their trains.

Weekly War Bulletin, 20 Nov

For really large values of “week”.  I was too busy to digest October’s news as it happened, so here’s a quick look at the stories that stood out since the last Bulletin.  Normal service should be resumed from next week.

Continue reading

Weekly War Bulletin, 21 Aug

As yet more counties have to switch off their speed cameras, a study from the Department of The Obvious finds that more people are speeding where the cameras have been switched off.

This week’s cold hard news, though, is all about how some rich sportsman drove an absurdly inappropriate vehicle into central Manchester and got a parking ticket from a mean looking unrepentant traffic warden.  When you make millions of pounds a week, you can afford to do what you like with our streets.  “Supercar” drivers (for some reason I can’t read that word without thinking, I’m super, thanks for asking…) in Westminster just chuck their parking tickets away as they leave the country.  A fellow footballer demonstrates that in a country which punishes homicidal behaviour with £60 fines, millionaires will happily keep on behaving homicidally until you confiscate their weapons.  And a TV actor is released on bail and presumably allowed to continue driving his BMW after giving a pedestrian serious head injuries and driving away without stopping.

There’s another type of person who likes to drive in London.  In Peckham, a shop has collided with a BMW, killing its driver, who was in his 30s.  Hmm.

Motorists whine about having their human right to park wherever they bloody want being infringed.  Except that the government have this week ended the war on the motorist!  Hooray!  Motorists right to park on your front lawn, in your business’ front yard, or, indeed, on any part of a pavement that is technically private land, has been enshrined in law.  Only IanVisits dissents.

Sounds about right: on average, one child in every class is killed or seriously injured by a motor vehicle before they can leave school.  Kids in rich London boroughs are safer.  Hey, it’s just the necessary price we pay for our modern quality of life…

It’s OK though: authorities and businesses around Holborn are taking seriously the dangerous anti-social behaviour on our streets: they’re setting their private armies of wannabe cops on anti-social cyclists.  Previously, London’s battalions of private security guards were able to keep themselves busy tackling the threats posed by tourists, train spotters and press photographers.  Now that the EU has ruled that owning a camera is not an act of terrorism, security have had to find a new threat to neutralise, and a new set of laws to make up.  Look forward to being hassled by people who think it’s illegal to ride without a helmet, or who tell you that they will call the police if you don’t stay within the advisory cycle lane, because as a private security guard they know the law and that is the law.

As the Lib Dems join the fight over just who it was that had the idea to install hire bikes, we find that one in six of them aren’t even in use yet, because installation of docking stations in some of the posher parts of town has been held up by people who are worried that they will take road space away from their Mercedes.

Ready for the next round of train fare increases?  The Secretary of State for Motoring Transport could abolish the cap of 1% above inflation increases, in the hope that more expensive train fares will mean higher fares revenue, and less need to subsidise the trains.  Like it does on the, er, very expensive but empty SouthEastern bullet trains from St Pancras to Kent, which have already had to be subsidised by exempting SouthEastern’s conventional services from the 1% cap.  All sound a bit complicated and surreal?  That’s train fares.

Another reason we must build HS2: how else will people get to London Birmingham Airport on time for their flight to Edinburgh?  It’s not like they can use Heathrow, given how awful the shopping is there.

Local train in Suffolk hits a sewage tanker, whose driver thought that getting his sewage to its destination a couple of minutes quicker was more important than the life and limb of 21 train passengers and staff.

Your moment of zen: bear gets stuck in car! (via Boing Boing)

Testimonials for the rail fares system

From the 16-25 Railcard website:

Thanks, Jessica 16 (if that is your real serial number).  I was having difficulty understanding the concept of the card, which had only been explained in very cryptic terms like Save 1/3 on fares across Britain”, but then I found your insightful and delightfully minimalistically punctuated testimonial and it made it all so easy to grasp.

Meanwhile, if you were thinking of taking your firstborn to market in the hope of raising enough money to pay for a rail fare, why not consider buying a Family & Friends railcard?

At a third off, this means you’ll be paying only two fortunes per journey.