Ann Coffey


Affordable transport system is needed

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The Government recently asked Northern Rail to find ways of increasing the amount of money it gets from passengers, so that the money given by the government to the rail company can be reduced. How much passengers should contribute through the cost of rail tickets and how much the taxpayer should pay towards the cost of the transport system is always contentious.

A number of fare changes have been announced by Northern Rail and these changes came into effect on 8th September.

One such change affects peak time trains on weekday evenings – between 4pm and 6.30pm. The use of off-peak return tickets is now restricted, which puts up the ticket price for passengers who have to travel at peak times. Passengers with a Wayfarer ticket, a TfGM bus pass or a season ticket are not affected.

This change will disproportionately affect people who have to travel at peak times – Northern Rail tell me they estimate that 31% of people who normally travel at that time of day will pay more. Their fare will increase by 83 %. They may be part-time, low paid workers for whom it isn’t worthwhile buying a season ticket. Understandably they are very annoyed and feel it is very unfair. I have written to the Transport Minister and Northern Rail to raise my concerns about these restrictions.

Is it fair for the brunt of an increase in rail fares to be borne by some travellers when they may not have a choice?

However there are on- going concerns about travel costs, which can be a big chunk of people’s daily finances especially when fares are going up.

We need a transport system that meets the needs of the travelling public but is also affordable for passengers. How much should be paid by the individual traveller and how much through a tax subsidy from the government? And how is that done fairly?

If more decision making powers, together with a transport budget, was given to Greater Manchester then those decisions about how much public subsidy was given to the transport system and the cost of individual fares could better reflect local views of fairness, and decision makers could be better held to account.