Part-time workers look set to benefit from a new flexible travel season ticket that could be introduced as part of a major government shake-up of rail fares.
For the first time, people who work three or four days a week will be able to take advantage from the same savings that come from buying a monthly or yearly ticket. The trial Cards will be similar to the ‘Oyster’ card system used on London Underground which means only charging for journeys made.
The move could also encourage more staff to work from home more often, easing the burden on the country’s public transport system.
Liberal Democrat Minister Norman Baker announced New ‘flexible’ smart cards that allow rail season ticket holders to pay only for the journeys they actually make are to be trialled next year.
He said: ‘Millions of people no longer work traditional 9 to 5. Flexible ticketing must reflect that. It will give passengers a better deal by reducing the money they spend on fares and will spread demand across the network by encouraging them to take less busy services’.
It is one of a range of options to ‘modernise’ fares as part of the Government’s Fares and Ticketing Review. He reiterated.
He added: “Why should there be a season ticket that works for people who work five days a week but that leaves people out of pocket if they work three or four days a week? Where’s the justice in that?”
Currently, season tickets cost the same no matter how many days people travel in and out of London. It means those who commute five days a week or more save money while those who come in fewer days pay more per journey.
“The days when people turned up at London Bridge on the 8.43 wearing a pin-stripe suit and carrying an umbrella have all gone,” Mr Baker continued “That’s not how London operates any more.
“People nowadays want more flexibility about when they start at the office and leave. If they want it, why shouldn’t they have it? Why should people be forced into a box that says ‘nine to five’ on it? This is all about enabling Londoners and commuters to have a transport system that reflects their needs more closely.”
In another new idea that will be tested at the same time, the traditional fare jump from off-peak to peak times could be softened, therefore effecting those travelling in the slightly quieter periods at either end of the rush hour known as the ‘shoulder peak’.