for some time I have been seeking detail on the promised "Flexible Season" ticket to support part time commuters, that discussion is here.
The promise, as published in the Government announcement of the franchise was:
"new flexible season tickets, offering a discount for passengers travelling fewer than 5 days a week"
Forum staff have been helpful, but character of this new ticketing product is still not clear. This is a problem, as I, along with other customers, have been asking for clarity so that season ticket purchase patterns can be planned.
A member of the Rail UK Forum helpfully pointed me to the SWR franchise agreement, where I looked for the detail that would support the promise of a Flexible Season
Could SWR staff confirm if #69.1. in page 378 is indeed the promised "Flexible Season"?
This describes a carnet of 10 returns with a 5% discount on "Standard Anytime Day Return" pricing.Please clarify the detail of the product, which you have told us will be availble at the end of August 2018
I am able to confirm that this will be the ticketing offer. The only variable I am not able to confirm is how long the tickets will be valid for.
It's very good to see some progress in defining a ticket offer for part-time commuters at last. This promise was flagged as a key part of the franchise bid to update the railway and its pricing structure for modern requirements.
The 5% discount seems much too small, though.
By comparison, a 5-day season from Guildford offers a 29% discount on 5 journeys a week, while the monthly season offers a 35% discount on 21 journeys a month.
On this basis, the 10 day carnet should offer something around a 32% discount, yet the proposal outlined suggests it will only offer a paltry one sixth of that.
Bearing in mind also that flexible working is more common among women, do you consider a risk that offering such an exceedingly small discount, while technically meeting the lowest standard possible under the promise above, could be considered by passengers as potentially gender-discriminatory as well as cynically minimalist ?
In most cases a season ticket of some kind will offer a better discount for customers. Carnet tickets are designed to give flexibility to customers rather than offer a cheaper ticket than season tickets.
Most train operators who offer a carnet ticketing system don't discount the tickets as much as season tickets and we will be operating within our franchise agreement which is dictated by the Department for Transport.
What was written in the franchise announcement, and these were Transport Secretary Chris Grayling's words, was:
New flexible season tickets, offering a discount for passengers travelling fewer than 5 days a week
This clearly describes a product that provides flexibility and a discount.
What is emerging is a flexible product (carnet) with extremely low level of discount (5% off a Standard Anytime Day Return)
in my case, traveling 2 days per week from Portsmouth to Waterloo, I am better off paying £130.70 for a 7 day season rather than £141.17 for two days carnet travel (2 Anytime Day Return at £74.30 with 5% discount)
The question now is, can we help develop this ticketing product so that when it is released it is a sensible and useful for part time workers?
I am asking my MP to ask Andy Mellors, Managing Director of SWT franchise for fairer fares for part time commuters.
Here is a letter I have sent to the MD of SWT, copying in Stephen Morgan as MP for Portsmouth South and Lee Jeffery as Fares and Passenger Benefits Advisor at DfT.
Please do send your own letter if you feel inclined.