Season tickets stuck in the dark ages

13 October 2015

With many more people working flexibly these days, season tickets on rail need to start reflecting this change. Those working part time, or some days from home, currently can’t get the benefit of the discounts full-time workers receive on season tickets. A colleague recently shared an example with me which highlights the problem perfectly.

Her partner has been offered a part-time job working two and a half days a week in Vauxhall, London. He’ll be commuting in from Lewes, which for a weekly season ticket costs £100.70. However, as a part-time worker he’s left faced with an anytime day return ticket costing £52.70. That means for even two days a week, a season ticket is cheaper. With transport costs this high, and only working part time, he’s had to negotiate a later start time, buy a folding bike to cycle from Clapham Junction (this makes a big difference in ticket prices), and stay with family once a week. All this just to break even.

Contrast this example with that of another colleague who the other day managed to buy a ticket from Brighton to Manchester for £24.50!

We need a fairer system which reflects the flexible way we live and work now. And when you consider that women are a lot more likely to work part time, the lack of flexibility in season tickets is also a gender equality issue.

Our research on the South East Flexible Ticketing programme (SEFT) shows a real appetite for smarter ticketing among commuting rail passengers, both in terms of added convenience, and having access to more innovative and flexible ticket types and as a result, saving money.

With smart ticketing being rolled out now, particularly in the south east, surely this technology makes options like part-time season tickets even more possible now?

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