My Big Mouth: Increase in travel fares a slap in the face


The average fare has increased by 5.6% affecting bus, Tube, London Overground, Docklands Light Railway, Tram and boat services.


By Nadine Burnham-Marshalleck

January blues are inevitable after the excesses of Christmas, and this year is no different.

This week, disgruntled commuters battled through wind and rain with the heavy burden of increased travel fares.

As if the nation’s finances were not tight enough, the increase in travel fares is a slap in the face for passengers who rely on public transport.

The average fare has increased by 5.6%, affecting bus, Tube, London Overground, Docklands Light Railway, Tram and boat services.

Earlier this week, the TSSA transport union and the Campaign for Better Transport pressure group joined forces at St Pancras station to protest against the fare hikes.

The TSSA wielded plaques with PM David Cameron depicted as Thomas the Tank Engine’s Fat Controller.

Even Labour London mayoral candidate Ken Livingstone has jumped on the bandwagon.

Mr Livingstone is launching a leaflet campaign against the rising cost of public transport in the Capital.

As a Londoner using TFL services on a daily basis, I struggle to understand how the increase can be justified.

Surely, a rise in fares should coincide with a greatly improved service.

For that extra cut from my salary, I expect trains to arrive on time, tubes to be less overcrowded and buses to be cleaner.

Why am I paying more to wait on a draughty platform for a train that has been delayed by yet another signal failure?

Why do I have to squeeze onto the Northern Line with my head bobbling between somebody’s armpit and someone else’s unfurled Financial Times?

And why am I greeted by a pungent smell of urine and beer whenever I jump onto a double-decker?

Sorry to be cynical Mr Cameron, but I am pretty peeved at paying more for a service that seems to be getting worse.

Figures from the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority show the staggering number of MPs’ first-class rail journeys which are at the taxpayer’s expense.

According to the figures, between June and July 2011 the taxpayer contributed £136,800 to pay for 1,334 first-class rail fares for MPs.

While the government preaches about the need for austerity, MPs should not be above travelling in economy with the rest of us mere mortals.

An MP travelling in the luxury of first-class should be responsible for covering the cost, not the taxpayer.

Above inflation fare hikes are a bitter pill to swallow, but public transport passengers are over a barrel.

For the average commuter, the alternative of driving to work is fraught with the minefield of congestion charges, fuel charges and lengthy traffic delays.

For now, as much as it pains me, it seems the only option is to go and renew that rather pricey travel card.

If you happen to be on a double-decker in the SW London area, I’ll be the one dodging the questionable yellow puddle and whinging about the smell.

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