Part-time workers are set to benefit from the same Travelcard savings as full-time commuters after Mayor Boris Johnson instructed Transport bosses to draw up plans to introduce a new part-time season ticket.
Liberal Democrat and Conservative groups on the London Assembly say the current fares system is unfair as it fails to recognise the regular commuting done by part-time workers who must pay the more expensive single journey fare.
Both have suggested amendments to the Mayor’s 2014/15 budget to fund the introduction of a part-time Travelcard.
In addition, the Assembly’s Budget and Performance Committee recently recommended that the Mayor’s office investigate “the social and economic benefits of time-based ticketing” with a view to encouraging part-time working and reducing both peak-time travelling and “travel costs for low-paid workers”.
In a letter to Committee chair John Biggs, the Mayor’s Chief of Staff Sir Eddie Lister says:
“The introduction of contactless bank card payments on the London Underground and rail services later this year not only provides customers with more flexibility but also provides the opportunity for TfL to develop more flexible ticketing products.
“The original Oyster card system has a number of operational constraints which limit this flexibility. The Mayor has therefore asked TfL to work on ticketing products which specifically address the needs of part-time workers, asking them to balance the desire of all Londoners to have a simple and cost-effective ticketing system with the needs of part-time workers.
“The Mayor has asked for this in time for any such changes to be introduced from January 2015.”
Sir Eddie’s letter suggests a change of mind on the part of the Mayor who, in October, told Liberal Democrat AM Caroline Pidgeon: “I am not going to fool around and pretend to you that I am going to go off and ask TfL to look at this again. They have looked it. They have concluded that it is not a sensible way forward.”
Appearing before Assembly Members on Wednesday to answer questions on his forthcoming budget, the Mayor confirmed plans “to bear down on travel costs for part-time workers.”
He told AMs: “The introduction of contactless bank card payments on the London Underground and other rail services later this year not only provides customers with more flexibility, but also provides a golden opportunity to develop more flexible ticketing products.
“I have therefore asked TfL to introduce ticketing which specifically addresses the needs of part-time workers from January 2015.”
The Mayor’s announcement was welcomed by Conservative AM Roger Evans who said: “The introduction of flexible ticketing from January 2015 will put cash back into the pockets of millions of part-time workers across London.”
“I’ll now be working hard over the rest of this year to ensure that my specific recommendations of a part-time Travelcard and a system of annual rebates for underused full-time Travelcards will be delivered.
“It will mean that people working three days a week will no longer have to pay for a full week’s travel. This is real progress.”
Ms Pidgeon said: “I welcome the Mayor’s new stance on this issue. Only months ago he totally rejected the idea, as he has over the last three years when I presented the idea at each budget round. The Mayor should stop hiding behind excuses from TfL officials and finally deliver a part-time travelcard.
“Travelcards at present only provide a good deal for people who work a conventional five day working week.”
“It is time that people who work part-time or work regularly from home are not penalised by an old fashioned fare structure.”