The Flexi-Season: not quite flexi enough
The House of Lords Built Environment Committee today invited Railfuture to discuss with them the Williams Shapps Review and the future of rail fares.
During the meeting, Railfuture director Neil Middleton called for a very simple change to the Flexi-Season ticket – to change it from 8 days in 28 days to 8 days in 31. He commented: “Someone who wants to use these tickets twice a week will really struggle to make effective use of them as there are so many reasons why travel twice a week for four consecutive weeks doesn’t happen - e.g. holidays, illness, suddenly needing to work etcetera. This is just a small extension to 31 days but there will be a significant improvement in choice by allowing some of the tickets to be used in a fifth week – and no major change to the basis economics of the ticket for the rail industry”.
Railfuture has promised to write to the Committee with further ideas for improving the Flexi-Season ticket and is currently considering what other changes it will recommend.
Neil went on to say “The Flexi-Season adds complexity to the fares system, not the simplicity wanted by Williams-Shapps. It’s still hard for Jo Public to know whether or not it makes sense to buy the new flexi tickets because it depends on so many factors - the journey, the varying amount of discount, and the availability – or not – of other fare options such as Advance tickets and contactless payment. Flexis are a useful improvement for some intermittent travellers to the workplace, but it needs to be seen as only a tactical improvement, and not the strategic solution”.
Anyone contemplating using a Flexi-Season needs to:
1. Use the National Rail Flexi-Season calculator to price the ticket vs Anytime Returns and other Season Tickets.
2. Search for other tickets that might be available such as Advances and Contactless Payment.
3. Consider whether they are likely to have wasted tickets (a Flexi-Season is personal).
4. Probably, be travelling in the Morning Peak Monday to Friday.
“Clearly, there’s a lot more work to be done to make our fares structure more user friendly” he added.
Notes to editors:
House of Lords Built Environment Committee: https://committees.parliament.uk/committee/518/built-environment-committee/ & https://parliamentlive.tv/event/index/1ba801bc-1410-435d-b2bc-9d4fd224259b
National Rail: https://www.nationalrail.co.uk/times_fares/Season-Calculator.aspx
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