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Part-time workers paying hundreds for rail travel they never use

8 February 2012
Part-time workers who commute by train are losing hundreds of pounds a year because of the lack of part-time season tickets, according to Campaign for Better Transport.

With the Government trying to get more people back into work and record numbers of part-time workers, Campaign for Better Transport is calling on the Government to consult on the introduction of part-time season tickets in the forthcoming review of rail fares and ticketing.

Sophie Allain, Campaign for Better Transport’s public transport campaigner, said: “Simply getting to work and back must be affordable and the lack of tailored part-time commuter tickets is creating a real barrier for workers, particularly in the capital. As the majority of part-time workers are women in low paid positions, this is a problem that is affecting those least able to afford it.”

Under the current ticketing system people who work less than five days a week must either buy a season ticket and lose money on the days they don’t use it, or buy individual peak-time tickets. If a three-day-week season ticket were available at 60 per cent of the cost of a full season ticket and a four-day one at 80 per cent, a part-time worker travelling into London from the South East would save on average between £700 and £1,400 a year.

Whilst some part-time workers can take advantage of carnet schemes, which for example provide ten journeys for the price of nine, Campaign for Better Transport found these were very rare, difficult to find, and not as economical as a season ticket.

The charity found 11 carnet schemes currently available nationwide and discovered that of the 50 busiest commuter stations in the South East outside London, only four rail companies run schemes which are valid on commuter services.

The Government is about to launch a review of fares and ticketing. Campaign for Better Transport is urging the Government to look at introducing part-time season ticket as well as a national carnet scheme that is properly promoted and advertised. Both schemes could be more flexible and more easily administered with the introduction of electronic smartcards.

Notes to Editors

1. There is currently only one part-time season ticket available in England through the Devon and Cornwall season ticket scheme http://www.plymouth.gov.uk/fgwticketoffers.pdf, which was launched with the help of the Devon & Cornwall Rail Partnership http://www.carfreedaysout.com/index.html.

This scheme covers seven routes and offers travel on three named days per week plus weekends, with either a monthly or annual ticket. The discount varies depending on the route and the days chosen, but works out at between 66 and 70 per cent of the full season ticket price.

2. Campaign for Better Transport has discovered that someone working three days a week travelling into London from the South East would save on average £1,400 a year with a part-time season ticket, and around £700 if they worked four days a week http://www.bettertransport.org.uk/files/part-time-season-ticket-calculations.pdf

3. There are 7.8m part-time workers in the UK making up nearly a quarter of the workforce, with almost three times as many women working part-time as men (2,014,000 vs. 5,845,000), Labour Market Statistics, The Office of National Statistics.

4. Campaign for Better Transport is the UK's leading authority on sustainable transport. We champion transport solutions that improve people's lives and reduce environmental damage. Our campaigns push innovative, practical policies at local and national levels. Campaign for Better Transport Charitable Trust is a registered charity (1101929).