This idea has some appeal:
Our three key measures are:
* the phased introduction of a flat fare structure, making zones a thing of the past, with the immediate abolition of zones 6 and 4,
* justice for part-time workers, with a daily cap that matches the rates paid by monthly season ticket holders
* a new 'ONE Ticket' allowing changes across all modes to close the gaps for people who currently pay twice when changing from bus or train to the Tube as well as ensuring that people changing buses pay only once for their journey.
"It's not fair that people in outer London pay so much more to get to work in the centre of the city - especially as it's also easier for people in the centre of town to use even cheaper or free alternatives such as hire bikes, cycling or walking," says Sian Berry, the Green candidate for Mayor of London.
Instinctively, it makes sense to make people pay more if they travel longer distances, but with local transport, people aren't paying for the distance as such, they are paying to get to work, mainly in Zone 1 or 2, or to get into Zone 1 for an evening out or to go shopping.
Currently, annual season tickets cost this much:
Zone 1 only - £1,296
Zones 1-2 £1,296
Zones 1-3 £1,520
Zones 1-4 £1,860
Zones 1-5 £2,208
Zones 1-6 £2,364
That's pretty flat already - a journey within Zone 1 is probably less than a mile, from the outer reaches of Zone 6 into Zone 1 is about fifteen miles, but it only costs twice as much.
But people don't pay to sit or stand on a train or a bus. It's a burden rather than a pleasure.
You could easily argue that Zone 1-2 prices should be higher than Zone 1-6 prices. If Journey A gets a commuter into town in five or ten minutes, then that's a much better service that Journey B which takes three-quarters of an hour to get you into town. That's exactly the same as rents being higher nearer the middle of town - people are paying their landlord for shorter commute times; why not have them pay the body actually providing the transport?
But it would be interesting to see what happens if there were a flat season ticket price of averaged out £1,860 or something. I strongly suspect that the behaviour of people in Zones 2 to 3 would not change that much, they would just pay the extra £300 or £600. Perhaps a few people in Zone 1 would walk to work instead? I also doubt that a £350 or £500 annual saving would encourage many more people to commute in from Zone 5 or 6. The only way to find out is to do it.
Another thing worth mentioning is that Transport for London's income is roughly half ticket sales and half subsidies. Rental values are a function of ticket prices, so a subsidy to travel is a subsidy to landlords. If the subsidies were abolished, an annual season ticket would cost around £3,500 a year (wild guess).
That would push down rental values by the same amount, i.e. instead of a working couple paying £18,000 a year rent and £3,500 for two annual season tickets, they would end up paying £14,500 rent and £7,000 for tickets. This effect would be stronger near the centre and less so on the outskirts, so abolishing the subsidies would be an indirect and slightly crude form of Land Value Tax on London landowners, as well as being a corresponding saving for taxpayers everywhere else in the country. So win-win, I think.
Sunday, 10 January 2016
This idea has some appeal: