Commuters say they feel cheated after the long-promised flexible tickets have turned out to be more expensive than an annual season ticket for many workers.
The government announced details of its new flexible season tickets last week, offering books of eight tickets which can be used within 28 days, at a small reduction compared to buying a peak fare day return.
But for anyone working more or less than two days a week, the tickets work out significantly more expensive than the alternatives – buying peak tickets for less than two days or an annual season ticket for more.
One Brighton commuter, Jon Southcoasting, said: “We feel cheated. This is not the support for part-time commuting we were promised.
“I will be commuting from Brighton to Victoria and we’ve been told we will have to work 50:50 home:office so from the end of the summer expect to travel two or three days a week.”
Another, Rob Woiwood, says he will be putting off his commute to London as long as possible as a result. He said: “It’s an absolute joke.
“The savings quoted are compared to rocking up at the station and paying on the day – what it should be compared to is value vs monthly pass, or the gold card I used to get.
“For someone who works two days a week you save a little bit, but as soon as you have to go in three days a week you need a monthly ticket again. So zero saving for using 40% less trains.”
Another, Charlie Taylor, said: “I travel three days a week and currently buy a weekly ticket. These new tickets would be so much more expensive.
“Even if I only travelled two days I worked out they would save me something like 20p a day.
“It’s ridiculous and I feel very annoyed by the situation. I was hoping they would save me a great deal and they are pointless.”
Hove MP Peter Kyle said: “Commuters have had a raw deal for too many years, so I welcomed the announcement about flexible tickets. This is something residents in Hove and Portslade have consistently asked for.
“Now, as we come out of Covid and we have new working patterns the flexible season ticket is needed more than ever.
“So the figures that Brighton and Hove News have worked are truly shocking and show the government’s complete disregard for people struggling to pay bills and keep a job.
“It is staggering that they are now lauding a scheme which in fact makes it more expensive for many people and hoping nobody notices.
“I’ve already raised this in Parliament and asked what comparative assessment the minister has made of the cost-per-day savings offered to two and three days a week commuter travelling from Hove to London, and what estimates he has made of the potential uptake of flexible season tickets in the first year they are in use (a) between Hove and London Terminals and (b) across the networks.”
A spokesman for the DfT said: “Flexible season tickets will offer most two and three day per week commuters savings against buying daily tickets or traditional seasons.
“We have always been clear that passengers should consider which product best suits their journey and travel pattern. This will be easier than ever with the updated season ticket calculator.”
How much would using the new flexible tickets cost Brighton and Hove commuters?
Here are some calculations on common routes. In each case, we have assumed commuters need 12 books of tickets a year for a two-day working week, and 18 for a three-day one.
Brighton to London Bridge
Two days £3830.40
Three days £5,745.60
Standard annual season ticket £4316
Brighton to East Croydon
Two days £2908.80
Three days £4363.20
Standard annual season ticket £3156
Hove to London Victoria
Two days £4342.80
Three days £6514.20
Standard annual season ticket £4712
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