The Croydon tram network is preparing itself to be included in the one-hour Hopper fare scheme when it is introduced by Transport for London in September.
Last week, Labour’s new Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan announced the Hopper scheme, which will allow bus passengers to travel on a number of buses within one hour for a single £1.50 fare.
But there was no mention in that announcement from City Hall of the Tramlink network, which links Croydon with south London destinations from Wimbledon to Beckenham Junction.
However, sources working at a senior level on Croydon’s trams have been told that they need to work on integrating their fares system with the buses for September to allow Tramlink journeys to be included in the Hopper system. And today, a spokesman in the Mayor’s Office at City Hall confirmed that such work had been given the go-ahead.
“It makes absolute sense to include the trams in the Hopper scheme,” a City Hall source said. “People going to work each day might use a combination of buses and trams – and there is no reason to discriminate against tram users provided the technology works.”
The one-hour Hopper fare was a key manifesto commitment by Labour, aimed to benefit those on low incomes, with Mayor Khan also promising a four-year fares freeze on Transport for London.
In a press release issued on his second day as Mayor, Khan said, “My dad drove the number 44 bus …” yes, he really did slip that into a press release in his first week in office, “… and transport in London has always been a big part of my life. The cost of a fare in London has risen for eight years in a row and now that I’m Mayor I am determined to prevent the cost of travel from becoming a barrier to work.
“The Hopper fare will make life cheaper and easier for millions of Londoners, and will help ensure that everyone will be able to afford to travel around the city. It is just the start of my plan to ensure that travelling around London is affordable for everyone, a commitment that includes a freeze on TfL fares for four years – benefiting millions of people.”
TfL estimates that 86 million journeys were made using more than one bus within one hour when using the capital’s transport network in 2015.
Of course, making public transport cheaper and easier might also have other benefits – such as reducing the volume of traffic on the city’s roads, easing congestion and possibly also cutting air pollution.
The Hopper fare will automatically be given to anyone who uses pay as you go with Oyster cards or contactless payments, and will allow passengers to make an additional bus or tram journey for free within one hour of touching in for the first time. A City Hall spokesman said, “For the vast majority of passengers this will mean an end to having to pay two fares when changing bus or tram routes, and it is expected particularly to benefit Londoners on lower incomes who rely on public the bus network to get around.”
Unlimited bus transfers within one hour have not been possible due to limits on the technology used by Transport for London. However their ticketing technology will be upgraded next year, enabling TfL to deliver unlimited journeys within an hour by the end of 2018. Mayor Khan’s announcement could see those upgrades brought forward very rapidly.
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