Commons Gate

Ticketing on Public Transport (HC 84-iii)

Transport Committee 12 Dec 2007

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Evidence given by: 2.45 p.m. Campaign for Better Transport, Stephen Joseph, Chief Executive Passenger Focus, Anthony Smith, Chief Executive, London Travel Watch, Rufus Barnes, Chief Executive, Travel Watch South West, Gordon Edwards, Company Secretary; 3.45 p.m. Department for Transport, Tom Harris MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Transport, Bob Linnard, Director, Rail Strategy & Stakeholder Relations.

Mr Edwards: If I could draw your attention to a report which was 179 from the Scottish Executive Development Department after they introduced free concessionary fares, they looked at the Lothian and Strathclyde areas and said a significant switch from rail to bus was measured by on-train surveys before and after the introduction of free fares. The abstraction was between 19% and 66% and it averaged 46% for those two regions. I could give you examples where we have seen abstraction on certain railway lines in south west England from rail to bus. We now have a line like the Exeter to Exmouth line which is basically becoming a commuter railway, well used in the morning peak by commuters who come back, of course, in the evening. During the day the over-60s who used to use that service now go by bus because it is town centre to city centre every 12 minutes, low floor, free.

Q243 Mr. Eric Martlew: Is that a problem?

Mr Edwards: In the south west we are worried about the financial liability of our railway lines because many of our railway lines are community railway lines, have been designated by the DfT and they are supposed to grow custom. However, you have somewhere like Looe to Liskeard, Penzance to St Ives where, in the winter, people, because of the high percentage of concessionary fare holders in those area, are now using competing bus services and not using trains.

Mr Smith: I think that is a good question, does it matter? From the passengers' point of view of course it is potentially of great benefit in the short term, but in the longer term the railways in these areas are subsidised by the Government for a purpose and if that purpose is not being fulfilled you would hope there would be a bit of joined up thinking about which mode of transport is going to be favoured by the public subsidy, but it appears to be approached in separate parts.


Q254 Mr. Eric Martlew: Various local authorities have different schemes that go beyond. In my area there is no time restriction. How would you deal with that if you decided on a national scheme? Would you destroy that?

Mr Edwards: I think that to get a national scheme, whether with the advent of smartcards you would then be able to say a local authority would be able to top it up -----

Q255 Mr. Eric Martlew: Smartcards are not working at the moment.

Mr Edwards: No, but with ITSO smartcards and with bus operators being able to accept them and read them, it would be possible to load cards issued in a certain district with special features. I think the current system is just so complex; 293 different travel concessionary authorities is a nonsense.

This is an uncorrected transcript of evidence taken in public and reported to the House. The transcript has been placed on the internet on the authority of the Committee. Neither witnesses nor Members have had the opportunity to correct the record. The transcript is not yet an approved formal record of these proceedings.

The full transcript may be read at

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On behalf of Eric Martlew, 3 Chatsworth Square Carlisle Cumbria CA1 1HB