Season tickets refunds – what happens next?

20 May 2020

“I understand the time taken at this time but I have had no correspondence and I am still out of pocket for my annual season ticket.”
Annual ticket, ScotRail

In our latest Transport User Panel survey we have followed up with passengers on the progress of their season ticket refund. The results show a mixed picture. Lots of rail passengers have had their refund after following the instruction not to travel. Those who have received a refund quite quickly have often been satisfied with how it’s been handled.

On the other hand, those who are still waiting, sometimes for six weeks or more, or have received a less than they expected, tend to be much less satisfied. We’ve been pushing for train companies to keep people informed about progress with their claim and their ‘position in the queue’. We are pleased that the Department for Transport has recognised the need for greater clarity and reassurance and is pushing this with operators.

It was extremely quick and clear and straightforward, and had the funds back in my account within days – also, they were immediately able to tell me the redemption value of my ticket.
Annual ticket, Thameslink

Meanwhile, few bus passengers have made a claim. While bus passengers tend to buy shorter length season tickets than rail, and so often have less money at stake, this is still a concern. The bus industry is facing huge uncertainty and financial pressure, but can they do more to refund their customers and ensure they are treated fairly?

Aside from the pressing issue of people getting their money back, the survey also confirmed support for the option to ‘pause’ tickets rather than claim a refund. It’s still possible the virus could mean further restrictions on travel become necessary again in the future. Let’s all hope not, but a more flexible offer to meet different passengers’ needs would help if it does.

Of course, one of the main determinants of passengers’ support, or not, for the ‘pause’ option is whether they expect to be travelling regularly again soon. Given all the talk about homeworking becoming the norm, it is perhaps surprising to see so many panellists saying they expect to buy another season ticket. However, it’s clear from the comments that many are uncertain about how much they will need to travel in the future and are waiting to see how their employer responds. Passengers also raise carnets and other more flexible season tickets, seeking tickets that better suit their possible future travel habits.

Given that we have proven working from home to be effective, I wonder if my company might encourage it more. In which case I would love to see a product made available that is a better way to travel, flexibly and cost effectively, on any 3 days in a week for example.
Annual ticket, London Northwestern Railway

Will the industry respond?

Like the blog? Please share on your social channels.