Mayor’s Question Time – 01/10: TfL, Oyster and General Policy

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Electric echarging points. Freedom Passes. Linking the Fares Finder and Journey Planner. The lack of a paper fares guide. TfL property in Enfield. Superhubs. The new 0843 number. Safer Transport Teams. TfL and political events. Oyster information at stations. London Assembly reports. TfL targets in the Mayoral Strategy.

If Brighton and Hove Council can ensure that all their electric vehicle charging points are sourced from renewable energy, then why can’t you? – Jenny Jones

TfL plans to establish a framework contract in 2010 for the supply of a network of charging points. TfL will work in partnership with the London Boroughs and other organisations to install 2500 charging points across London to establish a publically accessible charging network. The specification for charging points for the Pan-London network is still in development and TfL has yet to consider power supply issues.

When taking into account the current UK electricity generation grid mix, electric vehicles result in 30-40% less CO2 emissions than petrol or diesel vehicles. Over time, as the amount of renewable energy increases in the generating mix of the grid, CO2 emissions from electric vehicles will fall.

When will Freedom Passes be programmed into Station Ticket machines so that Pass holders travelling beyond zone 6, only have to pay from zone 6 and not have to pay full fares from their station within the ‘London’ Zones. – Caroline Pidgeon

Freedom Pass holders wishing to travel beyond Zone 6 to, say, Bath or Southampton, only need to buy a paper ticket from the edge of the London fare zones, as has been the case for many years. Given this, there are no plans for changes to station ticket machines to accommodate Freedom Passes.

Further to my previous calls for an effective fares calculator, the added level of detail on the TfL website single fare finder is welcome. However this states that “using Oyster pay as you go on National Rail is cheaper than paying cash” although this is not always the case, for example:

a) 16-25 railcard holders travelling on National Rail in the TfL afternoon peak, when a paper ticket may be cheaper;

b) National Rail Annual Gold Card holders who cannot yet put their concession on an Oyster Card.

What steps are you taking to ensure that travellers easily and reliably find the cheapest fares? Will you link the fares finder to the Journey Planner to improve its accuracy? – Mike Tuffrey

Thank you for bringing this to my attention.

I have asked TfL to review the wording on the TfL website to cater better for Railcard holders.

It remains the case that, with the very specific exceptions of certain Railcards, Oyster provides the cheapest fares for travel in London.

Linking the Fares Finder to the Journey Planner would be a major and expensive project. TfL will bear the possibility in mind when considering their long-term plans.

Given the introduction of PAYG on National Rail, and significant changes to Oyster single fares, why was a paper fares guide not available at stations on or before 2 January 2010? – Mike Tuffrey

The information leaflet ‘Oyster pay as you go on National Rail’, giving sample fares, was available at many National Rail stations in December 2009.

A comprehensive paper fares guide was not introduced this year, following an extensive study of customer usage of previous annual TfL Fares and Ticketing leaflets. The results found that, in general, customers prefer to ask station staff about fares, alongside other questions about journey planning and so on. They do not proactively seek the leaflet in the station. When shown a copy of the leaflet, customers found it too complex for their purpose, which is usually to seek an individual fare or product.

The research showed customers seek simple and tailored information, appropriate to their needs, for example, on concessionary fares. Three separate leaflets, which are available at Underground stations and many National Rail stations, have been produced for 2010:

· Getting around with Oyster

· Getting around with Discounts (concessionary fares), and

· Welcome to London (for visitors).

The TfL website now offers an online fares finder

( and the Oyster helpline is open seven days a week to help with fares enquiries.

Your decision to raise some bus fares by as much as 20% stands to disproportionately affect residents in parts of my constituency who do not have access to or cannot afford to use the Tube. Is this the reason why TfL did not produce a printed fares guide for 2010 to inform passengers of the most recent fare increases? Are you ashamed of your fare rises, which were described by the Financial Times as “the biggest real terms increases” in TfL’s history? – John Biggs

The reasons why a guide detailing all available fares was not produced for 2010 are included in my answer MQ0151/2010.

I have made clear that I am determined to keep fares as affordable as possible while protecting the range of concessionary fares available to the most vulnerable, maintaining front line services – particularly what is one of the most extensive, reliable and accessible bus networks anywhere – and safeguarding critical investment in better transport services.

Three key factors have come together to place enormous pressure on TfL’s budget: a fall in passenger journeys on the Tube caused by the recession; the collapse of Metronet, the Private Public Partnership firm working on the Tube upgrade, which TfL was forced to save; and the volatile fares policies of the previous Mayoral administration.

My fares package protects essential transport investment and services, such as the bus network, and bring stability to TfL’s financial position in the longer term. However, I was only persuaded of the need for this package after ensuring that huge efficiencies and savings, at least £5 billion in total, were being made at TfL and that a relentless focus on delivering clear value for fare and tax payers’ money was ongoing.

The fares package for 2010 means that, overall, bus fares will rise by 12.7 per cent and Tube fares by 3.9 per cent. This is comparable to fare increases introduced in 2005 and 2006, when bus and Tube fares increased by 12.7 per cent and 4 per cent, and then by 12.9 per cent and 3.9 per cent respectively.

I have protected free and concessionary fares for London’s elderly, young people, those on low incomes and those seeking work. This means that 40 per cent of bus passengers will continue to travel free, or at a substantial concessionary rate. A further 17 per cent will see no increase due to frozen Travelcard and bus cash fares. In addition, the Freedom Pass will continue to be valid for travel 24 hours a day on all TfL services.

While fare rises are never welcome, London bus fares in 2010 will be lower in real terms than in 2000, and cheaper than in other parts of the UK. The average bus fare in London will be 69 pence, compared with up to 98 pence in other major UK cities.

What steps did TfL take, and will you now take, to ensure that those people who are living in the former TfL property in Enfield will be re-housed or provided with effective assistance to move, further to the sale of the TfL property to a Housing Trust? – Mike Tuffrey

TfL has disposed of their surplus properties in Enfield to Notting Hill Housing Trust, a Registered Social Landlord, subject to the existing tenancies.

Notting Hill Housing Trust, together with the London Borough of Enfield will work with the tenants in assessing their housing needs in accordance with the London Borough of Enfield’s housing policies.

As the concept of Super Hubs is dead in the water, will you be directing refusal of BXC’s planning application condemned by the neighbouring boroughs and lobbying groups / amenity societies? – Navin Shah

The Council has not yet referred the Brent Cross Cricklewood application to me for consideration. My officers continue to negotiate on matters that I commented on at the consultation stage. Should the application be referred to me then, in the usual way, I expect to consider my officers’ report, the Council’s decision and any representations received at that time before determining the application.

I have been asked by a member of the public to ask the following question:

“I would like to know why TfL is moving from a local 020 7222 1234 number to a more expensive 0843 number for London Travel Information.

Most telecoms company call packages include 02x numbers for free, so this move will increase costs for everyone calling the service.

It is not right that council tax and fare paying customers will have to pay additionally for travel information through such a number.

This comes at a time when numbers for such agencies are being encouraged to move away from 08x to 03x numbers which are charged at a lower rate or are included in call packages.

This change will encourage those who are able to use internet and mobile internet services for information and will punish the most vulnerable who do not have access with high call charges.” – Val Shawcross

TfL has changed its travel information number to 0843 222 1234 in order to meet the growth in demand in a cost effective manner and reduce waiting times for its customers. TfL’s 0843 service gives customers the opportunity to use a voice-activated service to plan their journey, though they do always have the option of speaking to a customer service advisor. No one calling the 0843 number should get an ‘engaged’ tone, meaning TfL can provide a better service at times of high demand, the recent period of cold weather being a prime example.

TfL will not profit from the calls, although they do receive a share of the call cost to pay for the voice-activated service. From a BT landline, a call to 0843 222 1234 will cost no more than 5p per minute. Mobile phone companies set their own tariffs which are subject to regulation by Ofcom. As well as providing travel information free on its website and throughout the transport network itself such as at stations, TfL also provides a journey planning facility for a small cost via text message.

A resident has raised the issue of school children on buses with me. He would like to know what difference the Safer Transport Teams have made in respect to the boisterous behaviour displayed by some school children on buses, particularly after school has finished when they are on their way home. I would be grateful for your response, particularly with view to the Safer Transport Teams in Enfield. – Joanne McCartney

The Borough of Enfield has a total of 46 Safer Transport Command (STC) officers in the local Safer Transport Team (STT). This includes two hub teams that patrol the Enfield Town Centre transport hub and the Edmonton Green hub. The STC provides daily patrols at bus stops and key school routes at both school opening and during afternoon peak travel time 3pm to 5pm.

Crime on public transport in London is low and reducing further. The latest crime statistics show that, compared to the same period in 2009, crimes committed on or around the bus network in Enfield have been reduced by 14.7 per cent.

The STT is also working closely with TfL’s schools liaison coordinator to highlight schools that require support from TfL’s Safety and Citizenship team, which runs an education programme visiting both primary and secondary schools promoting responsible travel and respectful behaviour towards others.

Is it appropriate for TfL funds to be used to sponsor a party political event? – Tony Arbour

No it would not and for this reason TfL does not do so.

What more can you do to ensure that information on Oyster fares is easily accessible at mainline stations and at Underground stations? – Tony Arbour

Oyster information is available on both the TfL and National Rail websites, as well as via the Oyster helpline open seven days a week on 0845 330 9876. The TfL website includes a new single fares finder to make accessing Oyster fares information even easier.

All Underground stations have fares lists, showing both cash and pay as you go fares, which are located as close to ticket machines as possible and many mainline stations now have tailored leaflets informing people about the benefits of Oyster.

Of course, station staff will help where they can.

Under what conditions does the Mayor believe that the findings from all London Assembly Transport Committee reports, such as the imminent review of congestion on Oxford Street, be included in the revised transport strategy. – Richard Tracey

My draft Transport Strategy contains an integrated package of measures that are evidence based and cost effective. Many sources of evidence, research and best practice have fed into the draft Strategy, including the Transport Committee’s work on the bus network, 20mph speed limits and passenger experiences of the Underground. The strategy has also been developed through public and stakeholder consultation, and engagement activities.

The goals of the strategy, how they are implemented and delivered, and the performance of the transport network will be closely monitored (as set out in chapter 9 of the draft Strategy). The precise interventions needed to achieve the Strategy’s goals will evolve, be refined and adapted, as and when appropriate through the life of the Strategy. This will also be informed by the Transport Committee’s work, along with other evidence.

Does the Mayor believe that his revised transport strategy should include targets for all critical TfL deliverables such as road network reliability? – Richard Tracey

My Transport Strategy sets out the transport outcomes sought to support the economic and social development of London and how TfL and its partners, including the London boroughs, will deliver the strategy over the next 20 years.

When appropriate, the anticipated outputs and outcomes of the strategy have been quantified and included in my draft Strategy document. The achievement of these will be monitored and reported in TfL’s Travel in London Report.

Current traffic analysis by TfL is providing greater insight into levels of journey time reliability on the Transport for London Road Network. This is at an early stage and it would be premature to include specific targets in the final MTS.

Written by John Bull
John Bull is the Editor of London Reconnections. A transport journalist and historian, his writing often focuses on the political or strategic challenges facing London's transport network and beyond.