RRegular train users have given a decidedly lukewarm response to the launch of part-time season tickets in England this week. The government had promised big discounts for workers who travel less, but for many, the deal is no better than the other options that were already available.
After years of struggling with the problem, the Department of Transportation launched the flexi subscription, which he hopes will get commuters back on trains – if and when office life returns in earnest. They can be used from Monday June 28.
But rather than, as was hoped, offering daily rates close to what commuters would already pay with the conventional annual pass, the discounts were dismissed by consumer groups as so disappointing they would only do so. âBring more travelers back to their carsâ.
A Brighton commuter told Guardian Money he had better buy existing tickets for his trips, while others calculated they would only save Â£ 7 a year.
Our own research suggests that previously available carnet tickets offered larger discounts.
Likewise, getting to the office after 9:30 a.m. or using rail passes for return trips will offer workers much greater savings.
Flexible tickets offer customers eight days of travel over 28 days, all between two named stations. Users pre-purchase the journeys loaded on a smart card, or via a mobile application, and use them according to their needs. Each round-trip ticket runs until 4:29 a.m. the next day, so users can return home after midnight.
The Department of Transportation said the tickets were priced “between a return anytime and a seven-day pass,” offering savings to commuters traveling during peak hours two or three days a week.
He claims regular users could save up to Â£ 350 per year using the new tickets.
Unlike standard subscriptions, flexi tickets are not available in first class and cannot be used on Transport for London services, so commuters to the capital still have to pay on arrival.
In addition, there is no cheaper option in off-peak hours, so they will only be useful for people traveling during peak hours.
People who are employed outside of the traditional nine to five working day will not receive any benefits.
A flexible Brighton-London ticket for an eight-day journey over a 28-day period costs Â£ 39.90 per day, compared to Â£ 16.61 for a full-time subscription, or return without an appointment at any time from Â£ 56.40.
However, regular traveler and resident of Brighton, Andy Lord, says those who buy an existing single anytime from Brighton to St Pancras, and an off-peak return using a Network Railcard (Â£ 30 for the year) will pay 39 , Â£ 40 per day, 50p less than flexi option.
âA monthly pass ends up being more beneficial even if you only travel three days a week,â he adds.
âThe government headlines might look good and have piqued people’s interest, but these discounts alone will do little to encourage people to return to their offices. “
A commuter traveling from Stevenage to London, for example, opting for the flexi option, will pay Â£ 177 up front, the equivalent of Â£ 22.12 per day. This is compared to a rush hour walk-in return of Â£ 23.90 to Â£ 1.78 per day which saves money.
Old users rush hour book tickets, which offered a 10% reduction on the walk-in rate, will be annoyed to learn that it will end up paying more because rush hour notebooks have been removed and replaced by flexi.
If commuters travel to London from Stevenage after 9:30 a.m., the fare drops to Â£ 15.90 round trip – or Â£ 13 a day if they travel after 10:00 a.m. and use a rail pass.
One of the problems with the flexi ticket is that if commuters don’t use all the tickets within the 28-day period, the refund they are entitled to may not be as high as they hoped.
This is because it is calculated from the difference between the price of the flexi season and the cost of a return ticket at any time for each day of travel, less administrative costs.
The National Rail website warns that if commuters only have one or two trips left, they may find they are not entitled to a refund.
Alice Ridley of Campaign for Better Transport said the savings offered were not what commuters had promised: âThere is a risk that people will change the way they travel and start driving, and we wanted tickets. flexible to encourage people to re-board trains. We don’t think these tickets are going to do that or provide the savings people were hoping for. “