Falling off the cliff face – dealing with devolution and common sense

03 April 2013

We Brits seem to have a funny relationship with devolution. Open the paper one day and you will find the cry of ‘post code lottery’ when things are different in different place. Look the next day and you will see cries of ‘local people must decide’.

With rail devolution on the agenda it is important that all passengers’ interests continue to be represented and voiced. There will always be administrative cliff faces which produce consequent behaviours.

Free car parking at many stations outside of London, where big metropolitan authorities hold sway, can lead to people driving across the boundary to save money – not really good for anyone. Fare zones and boundaries need much attention. The mire that was the interaction between National Rail and Transport for London has been much cleared up inside London as Oyster pay as you go has spread. However, once you head out of the Oyster boundary it can get mighty confusing.

Do most people who have a travelcard know that they can use that to get to the boundary and then just pay for the rail travel beyond? My regular travel to Sevenoaks is always much enlivened by having to queue at London Bridge to buy my Zone Three extension which cannot be bought anywhere other than a station. This does not encourage anyone and it adds a ten minute penalty to the journey – and adds to costs of the industry.

The cliff faces of devolution will need careful work to ensure they are as shallow as possible. Steep cliffs will cause resentment.

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