Rail campaigners are calling for a new type of flexible season ticket that will give part-time commuters the level of discount offered by weekly season tickets.
The Railfuture group said the ticket will be needed when larger numbers of people return to workplaces, with many likely to keep working at home for some of the week. It has suggested a mid-2021 launch date.
A platform at London Bridge station, this month
To meet the needs of the ‘hybrid worker’, it has proposed a flexible ticket providing 10 single journeys - effectively five returns - to be used within two weeks and priced the same as a weekly season ticket.
It describes its flexible season ticket as ‘based on an evolution of existing Carnet products’, but said that such products do not provide the same discount for reward regular or long-term travel as monthly and annual season tickets, or give increased discounts over longer distances.
The group said: ‘We support the principle that the more you spend, the greater the discount.’
Neil Middleton, a director of Railfuture, said its proposed ticket was ‘aimed at the five to six-times-a-fortnight workplace attender’, but would often benefit a four-days-a-fortnight attender.
He said: ‘There's often an enormous gap between the price per journey for someone travelling five days a week with a season ticket and someone who travels two or three days a week – our proposal aims to bridge this gap.’
Railfuture chair Chris Page said: ‘Our ideas are designed to work using the ticket technology that's in place now. In the medium-term, smarter fare options may well be needed to spread attendance across all of Monday to Friday.’
The group said smartcards are the preferred option where readers are available but that where there are missing readers or a rail firm does not have suitable back-office systems, alternative options such as smartphone apps and print at home tickets could be needed.
It said tickets should have peak and off-peak versions and that off-peak usage might be catered for by granting credit against future purchases.
As Transport Network has reported, both the Government and rail firms are reluctant to give part-time commuters similar discounts to full-time season tickets because of fears that this could undermine what is a key revenue stream.