Most associate the turning of a new year with fresh starts and bright outlooks.
However, many Londoners have another reason to be gloomy this January – to go along with economic malaise, bleak skies and extended festive hangovers.
The first week of 2012 has seen the inevitable increase in national train fares, much to the chagrin of an already-irate British travelling contingent, clearly frustrated by the rising expense of travel within our nation.
The reality has only really started to sink in over the past few days as commuters across London and the UK have had to fork out extra pounds to get around.
On Tuesday, the London Evening Standard ran with the headline ‘London has most expensive commuter travel in the world’: painful reading for those Londoners having to digest some pretty tough statistics whilst travelling home from work. An increase of up to eight per cent is a bitter pill to swallow for many, especially when comparisons are made with our European neighbours and American cousins:
‘A Zone 1-4 travel card costs £10.60 in London compared with £5.84 in Berlin, £3.12 in Los Angeles and £3.44 in Rome.’
In advance of May’s London mayoral election, Ken Livingston summed up the situation fairly bluntly: ‘Fares have become a stealth tax,’ he said. He went on:
‘Someone on the minimum wage is spending 27 per cent of their take home pay on their fares.’
On the subject of the Mayor, shepherds-bush observed the following in light of the recent news:
‘It’s been clear from polling for a while now that Boris is ahead of Ken in the popularity stakes, but the one area that Team Ken seem able to score points on is the question of fares.’
Tweets around the capital have taken a predictable line on the issue. Londoner Costas Sarkas, clearly fed up, tweeted dryly ‘train fares go up 5.9% today- time to give up “luxuries” like meat & Costa coffees just to be able to go into Central London #creditcrunch.’
Whilst Cameron Hall displayed similar levels of discontent in light of paying more for a journey on a heaving train this week:
‘Travelling down to London on a vastly overcrowded train on a day that fares have seen rises over ten percent #isntitironic.’
It is perhaps unsurprising that Labour’s London Assembly budget chairman, John Biggs, ‘called on Boris Johnson to cut fares by seven per cent to take pressure off families hit by the recession’ on Tuesday.
Nobody enjoys fare increases – but it is difficult to argue that they are not necessary. So, is Boris Johnson putting unfair pressure on Britain’s hapless travellers by the scale of the price rises? Or are they a necessary evil for which blame should not be apportioned?
Everyone has their opinion, so why not get in touch and let us know yours?