September 25, 2017

The Hidden Truth Behind TfL Fare Increases

frozen tube

It has been a year since TfL introduced their “Frozen Fares” campaign, but a recently announced price increase shows how the agency’s promises proved too good to be true.

Last month, TfL revealed a 3.6% hike in rail prices slated for January 2018, making it the largest fare increase in the past five years.

Just before the increase was announced, the Office for National Statistics revealed that the Retail Price Index (RPI) measure of inflation had rose to 3.6% in July. By law, train operators can only raise fares by as much as the RPI figure. Those in favour of the increase claim that ticket prices are rising to match inflation and maintain their value, while those against it argue that the rising costs take advantage of an unavoidable expense from a monopolistic agency (prices have risen at twice the rate of wages since 2010).

When the “freeze” campaign was announced in 2016, TfL made the claim that “the average household will save around £200 over the next four years.” Unfortunately for commuters, this statement falls apart when you look at the details.

Fares are frozen until 2020, but only for contactless and single journey riders. After 3 days of travel using contactless payment, weekly fares are capped at the price of a weekly Travelcard. The price of a weekly, though, is subject to the same 3.6% increase that monthlies and annuals are set to receive in January 2018. Thus, anyone who commutes more than three days per week will end up paying more, come 2018.

The only people who benefit from the freeze are tourists and infrequent riders—those who use pay-as-you-go and single journey fares the most. Regular London commuters, though, are at the mercy of the 3.6% increase, and will end up paying even more for travel next year, despite the promises of the “frozen fares” campaign.

Nonetheless, all is not lost for Londoners, as there is a way for everyone to avoid the higher 2018 rates. By joining CommuterClub, members can maintain 2017 prices as they pay for travel in 2018.

With CommuterClub, members receive an annual Travelcard without having to make the upfront payment. The Club buys the ticket, and members make smaller, monthly direct debit payments over the course of the year. By taking advantage of lower annual rates, members get a free month off their annual travel!

By joining CommuterClub now, Londoners save on travel by avoiding next year’s fare increase. Furthermore, membership comes with plenty of other benefits, including hundreds of 2 for 1 deals across the city and over £300 worth of savings from partners like Fitness First and Odeon!

Are the increasing rates justified? How will they affect you and your family? Share and comment, and join the conversation!

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