Or ‘Why is a single from Stalybridge to Dukinfield four times the price per mile as one from Manchester to London?’
Death and taxation are often stated as a main inevitability of life in dear old Blighty. What is never mentioned are that annual transport fare increases are another one.
Much noise has been made over the rail fare increases on the 2nd January this year. Several sources have stated that train travel will become a middle class pursuit.
A lot of noise has been made over a fare from Manchester Piccadilly to London Euston costing £219 (second class). That is 34p per mile.
In my area, 34p a mile on my local bus routes would be a fares cut instead of an increase. A single fare journey from Dukinfield (Morrisons) to Stalybridge (Armentieres Square) on one route will cost £1.40 as of the 14th January this year. The distance? About one mile; that is four standard (non discounted) fares from London to Manchester per mile! Over the same distance, a taxi fare on the daytime Tariff 1 of one local private hire taxi firm would cost approximately £3.50 (for four people). The bus alternative: £5.60 for four people, with a saving of £2.10 for the same party, in a taxi.
Though rail fare increases attract the greatest criticism in the national newspapers, the bus user outside of Greater London is forgotten. I would love a 5% increase on bus fares rather than a 10% one. Better still, I would like a swingeing fares cut to 1986 levels and properly subsidised transport.
Bus fares in Greater Manchester have increased by 10% year on year since 1986. Though this may have seemed realistic in 1990, when inflation was in double digit figures, this is by no means a joke, now that UK 2007 inflation figures are 3.6%.
If you live within the Greater Manchester area, and if you can afford it, I strongly recommend buying one of the System One season tickets – or the company’s own season tickets. If, like myself, you work in the centre of Manchester, think of how much you will save on single fares to the city – and use your pass for the short distance journeys which would otherwise cost you next to millions. If you have the legs, and your journey’s a short distance, use a form of transport which has had unparalleled reliability since Adam and Eve or the Big Bang.
A (much belated) Happy New Year to all readers of ‘East of the M60’,
S.V., 11 January 2007.