Fare is Foul and Foul is Fare
There is no doubt that the above inflation increase in rail fares (announced 13 August 2013) is not welcomed by rail travellers. I stopped using the railways years ago on grounds of expense, so as a sometime tax-payer, I welcome the decrease in the amount by which I have to subsidise other people’s travel.
Is it time to think a bit more fundamentally?
The BBC TV News report (see BBC Website 13 August 2013 Rail passengers in England face a 4.1% rail fare rise) quotes one commuter who travels from Wellingborough to London and who estimates that she works three months of the year just to pay her rail fare.
At about 65 miles and an hour each way it is not the longest of commutes, but is it sensible that so many people travel so far, for so long and at such expense every day?
Clearly there are a number of reasons why:
- London is the centre of the universe for the British Economy
- London has grown to such a size that living within a sensible commuting distance of your work is impossible unless you are exceedingly well paid.
- Even if exceedingly well paid, you may choose to take a heavy commute to live in a rural area and avoid living in London with its congestion, perceived violence and problematic public services.
- Your partner may have a job in the opposite direction and you choose to live approximately mid-way between the two places of work.
Arguably all of these “reasons” are due to the unbalanced state of the economy. If the economy was more evenly spread you could work within a 20 to 30 minute commute of your home and your partner would stand a chance of working nearby. Urban areas might be smaller and less unpleasant places to live – urban housing would certainly be cheaper.
Is that unreasonable?