Friday, 30 December 2011

Is London's public transport really so expensive?


London has a fantastic public transport network yet we still get special pleading:

Travelling in London is nearly three and a half times more expensive than Paris and 10 times dearer than in Rome, according to research by the Campaign for Better Transport.  With successive Governments in Britain allowing fares to rise faster than inflation, the gap has also been widening in recent years.  Next week commuter fares, which are capped by the Department for Transport, will increase by an average of six per cent.

Now this information should be treated with some caution – it’s based on one 23 mile journey rather than an assessment of the system itself. For me the central question is whether Londoners, Parisians and Romans can give up the car (i.e. it is no longer essential to practical living). For most people within the urban area of London Paris the car is only needed to visit maiden aunts in Hampshire, it isn’t needed to get to work, visit locally, shop or do those other regular everyday things.

Rome – crammed to the gunnels with crazy traffic – has just 38km of underground and less than 200km of other urban rail system. Paris Metro is a little longer at 86km and the other light rail is limited. The London Underground alone has 402km of track before we’ve taken account of overground services, trams and bus priority systems.

In London a comprehensive annual ticket (Zones 1-9) costs a little over £3,000. But bear in mind that the transport system in London is so comprehensive you don’t need a car (although this gets a little trickier the further you get from London). The AA gives a running cost for the cheapest category of car (valued at below £12,000 new) at 10,000 miles per annum as £4,553 – over £1500 more expensive than using public transport.

The Campaign for Better Transport is arguing that we should use more of the taxes paid by people who don’t use London’s commuter network to reduce the cost of that commuting rather than getting those commuters to pay the full cost of providing the world’s most extensive and comprehensive public transport system. Especially given that this system is significantly cheaper than running a car (that is only a luxury to most Londoners).



Curmudgeon said...

I think the figure of £4553 assumes buying a brand-new car and replacing it every 3 or 4 years. If you buy cars that are 4 or more years old the running costs will be very significantly less.

abrupt said...

A car can carry more than 1 person and more than any one person can carry.

SadButMadLad said...

Even using a second hand car, when you take into account insurance and the trouble with finding a parking spot, going by tube is still more convienent in London. For the few times when you need to carry something bulky use a taxi.

Phil B said...

Well, when tube drivers are paid more than an experienced Engineering Graduate and they receive trainloads of public subsidy, then ... yes.

selsey.steve said...

I have solved the problem of the costs involved in travelling around London. I never visit that filthy, festering, foreign place.
If I have business to transact with some poor soul condemned to labour within the confines of that hell-hole, I do it electronically.
I will never voluntarily enter the precincts of that disgustingly filthy place.