Khan warned: axing travelcard will damage London’s reputation

‘The One Day Travelcard is a perfect example of integrated ticketing across all forms of transport in London’, according to a passengers committee from Croydon and Surrey. So why is Mayor Khan planning to scrap it?

An influential travel group representing public transport passengers in Coulsdon, Sutton and east Surrey, has today warned London Mayor Sadiq Khan that the withdrawal of the One Day Travelcard will lead to added costs, more complexity and even conflict between staff and the public.

Card times: the East Surrey Transport Committee says that axing the Travelcard will hit the poorest hardest

The scrapping of the travelcard after almost 40 years is in response to central Government’s financial restrictions on Transport for London, following the catastrophic impact on its finances during the covid lockdown in 2020. But transport insiders believe that Mayor Khan has “fallen into the Tory Government’s trap” by looking to end the travelcard.

“As required by conditions of the Government’s funding settlements, we are considering proposals to generate additional income,” TfL said last month when announcing its proposals.

“One of these proposals is withdrawal from elements of the Travelcard Agreement, such as TfL’s acceptance of day travelcards.

“We anticipate that, if TfL ceases to accept day travelcards, rail operators will also stop selling Zone 1-6 travelcards,” it states.

Under the proposals, the daily paper tickets would no longer be sold or accepted on TfL Tube, bus, rail, tram and London Overground services. Passengers travelling from outside Greater London would be forced to use contactless or Oyster cards.

At their peak, in 2018, 27million travelcards were sold. That figure was down to 12million last year, which was double the number sold in lockdown year 2020.

Travelcards offer unlimited travel on services within London. If child day travelcards were no longer be available, those outside of London would have to apply for a Zipcard, which provides free and discounted travel in London for those aged under 18.

On the way out: TfL reckons getting rid of the paper One Day Travelcard could boost its revenues by £1bn per year

In a four-page letter sent to Mayor Khan today, Coulsdon resident Charlie King, the chair of the East Surrey Transport Committee, described the withdrawal of the integrated public transport ticket as a “negative step…  despite 40 years of success and over 12million being sold last year”.

The One Day Travelcard was one of the innovations introduced in 1984 by the old Greater London Council under Ken Livingstone.

Withdrawing the card, King wrote, “can only lead in cost and complexity of travel in London. It will cause conflict between staff and passengers especially when people are refused travel. It will lead to more fare evasion.

“It will make London a more expensive and less attractive to visit and will make people think again about travelling to London.

“The unexpected consequence could well be that the cost of travelling to, from and around London becomes more complicated and expensive and the number of visitors to London by public transport goes down and TfL does not receive its forecast increase in revenue.

“We should be encouraging people to travel to London by public transport, improving air quality and reducing congestion. Not discouraging it and making it more complex.

“We believe the withdrawal of the One Day Travelcard is wrong and detrimental to London. Rather than withdraw the One Day Travelcard, TfL should renegotiate the agreement with the train companies.

“The One Day Travelcard has proved to be one of the best, easiest and popular tickets to travel round London, especially for children who do not have an Oyster Zip card. The One Day Travelcard is a perfect example of integrated ticketing across all forms of transport in London.”

Need for travelcard has not changed: ESTC’s Charlie King

King was writing on behalf of the East Surrey Transport Committee, which represents public transport users in Croydon, parts of Sutton and northeast Surrey. His letter was ESTC’s submission to the Mayor of London’s “engagement process”.

“We understand that travel patterns may have changed over this 40-year period, but the need for a simple convenient integrated one-day ticket valid on all transport has not,” he wrote.

“We are concerned that TfL has decided to use the engagement process rather than consultation process which gives the impression that the decision has already been made. We note that TfL assume this decision will raise between £0.5billion and £1billion in increased revenue. This can only mean the cost of traveling in and around London must increase and this revenue will come from passengers who have just had a 5.9per cent increase in fares in March this year.”

The ESTC letter highlighted how the loss of the travelcard will be to discriminate against families and children, and those without access to “smart” technology, or bank cards – in other words, it will discriminate against the poorest in society, making it more difficult, and more expensive, for them to travel by public transport.

“We know from work by London Travelwatch that up to 20per cent of people do not have access to modern technology,” the ESTC letter said.

The impact of the loss of the travelcard, King wrote would worsen London’s reputation as a very expensive place to visit.

ESTC also flagged up that…

  • Senior and disabled card-holders (who do not have a Freedom Pass) will not be able to obtain discounts on off-peak fares unless they obtain an Oyster card and register their railcard.
  • Children who are not regular travellers and do not have an Oyster Zip card will have to pay single peak fares. They will not be able to use the bus as they are cashless.
  • Even where a child between the age of 11-16 has a bank card, the technology TfL uses will not be able to distinguish that it is a child and will charge the adult fare.
  • The cost of Oyster Zip card for a casual visitor, at £14, “is both prohibitive and also can only be purchased in advance, online and requires a photo. It can also take up to 10 days to deliver”.
  • The alternative of a Child Visitors Oyster is just as complex. It has to be purchased in advance. It has to be registered at a Tube station. This does not take into consideration that the majority of south London is a considerable distance from the nearest tube station and would require purchasing a single ticket to the neatest tube station to register the Visitors Oyster.
  • Withdrawal of the Family Travelcard will increase the cost of travel to London for families. On reaching London, children will have the same problems if they do not have an Oyster Zip card.

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10 Responses to Khan warned: axing travelcard will damage London’s reputation

  1. richard pyatt says:

    As a pensioner i benefit from my freedom pass but i fear that the loss of this one day travel card is only the thin end of a govt wedge and it is ridiculous to try and force more money out of travellers who do not use the rlys /tube etc regularly i fully agree that the ticketing system we have is already far too complicated and overpriced tfl MUST stand up to national govt re funding fares are not a stealth tax on londoners

  2. Peri says:

    It is good idea by Mayor
    Traveling public pay bit extra it will help TFL to improve train and tube

  3. Mradula Vohra says:

    If the mayor wants to lose people coming into London as a result the small business and restaurants will become a ghost town. The cost of living in London get worst also we the people who pay will think twice and move out.

  4. John Gallagher says:

    Inconvenience is not a great method if increasing revenue. If they need to raise more money they should increase prices not inconvenience passengers. More muddled Labour thinking or Tory Trap?

  5. Rob Barker says:

    The ESTC forgot to mention that London’s buses are cash-free and will make it harder for people to travel in London without the paper Day Travelcards, if they don’t have a working contactless card with them.

    We need to point out that the Mayor’s withdrawal of the Day Travelcards may breach his statutory transport duties outlined in section 141 of the Greater London Authority Act 1999, which states:

    “(1) The Mayor shall develop and implement policies for the promotion and encouragement of safe, integrated, efficient and economic transport facilities and services to, from and within Greater London.

    (2) The powers of the Authority under this Part shall be exercised for the purpose of securing the provision of the transport facilities and services mentioned in subsection (1) above.

    (3) The transport facilities and services mentioned in subsection (1) above include facilities and services for pedestrians and are—
    (a) those required to meet the needs of persons living or working in, or visiting, Greater London, and
    (b) those required for the transportation of freight.”

    We need someone such as an organisation with a help of a pro-bono lawyer to put this to the test by taking legal action against the Mayor of London in courts. The Mayor of London is an ex-lawyer, he should know this piece of legislation quite well!

  6. Mark O'Neill says:

    Khan must NOT be allowed to let this most successful,multi modal Travelcard disappear-especially in the 40th anniversary of its birth. I fully expect Westminster to block these pernicious plans.

  7. Ian Kierans says:

    Charlie is pretty much right generally on the issues, but may be not quite there on the impacts and disbenefits. There is also that idea of a Tory trap to Khan.

    I would suggest that Charlie may have been better served also sending the letter to Ms Coutinho MP. She has some experience in the issues facing disabled, people getting to work along with the travel issues facing families and their wellbeing.

    Transport should never be a political football. Reliable and affordable public transport is a need for any society to exist let alone grow.

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