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Fair Fares Now

Roads to Nowhere

Happiest Commuter Index finds Cardiff commuters happy, whilst Manchester’s are miserable now

25 June 2012
Cardiff commuters have been named as the happiest rail commuters in an index published by Campaign for Better Transport today.

The transport charity looked at how train services in 11 cities perform on affordability, overcrowding and punctuality. Unlike existing passenger satisfaction surveys, which are based on individual train companies, the Happiest Commuter Index shows how the different attributes that make up satisfaction with train services affect overall happiness for commuters in specific cities.

The charity found that commuters travelling into Cardiff should be the happiest thanks to more affordable fares and less overcrowding, whilst Manchester’s commuters are likely to be miserable due to higher fares relative to wages. London commuters are also likely to be unhappy with high fares and the worst overcrowding.

The cities in full from the happiest commuters down to the least happy are:
1.    Cardiff
2.    Newcastle
3.    Nottingham
4.    Birmingham
5.    Leeds
6.    Liverpool
7.    Leicester
8.    Sheffield
9.    Bristol
10.    London
11.    Manchester

Richard Hebditch, Campaign for Better Transport’s campaigns director, said: “Surveys show that affordability is the most important issue for passengers, even more than punctuality or overcrowding, and our list shows just how much it affects their experience of rail travel. Whilst passengers in Cardiff and Newcastle are likely to be happy with their commute, they may not be so happy if the cost of their season ticket starts to rise to levels seen elsewhere in the country, something we know the Government is seriously considering.

“With rail fares already sky high across the country, and the Government set to raise fares by 3 per cent above inflation next January, the chances of finding happiness on the daily commute are going to be slim.”

The Government launched a Fares and Ticketing Review in March to look at the whole fares system. As part of the review the Government is looking at the possibility of reducing the variation in fares between London and other regions. Reducing London commuter fares has been ruled out, which means fares elsewhere in the country could go up to reduce this regional disparity. In addition, regulated fares are set to increase by RPI+3% in January across the whole of the UK, with a further rise in 2014.

The index has been published to coincide with the final week of the fares review public consultation. The Government has already indicated it is considering things like discount fares for part-time workers, more smart and integrated ticketing and super-peak tickets to reduce demand on the busiest services. Campaign for Better Transport is urging passengers to have their say on the future of fares before the review closes on Thursday 28 June. To take part in the Fares Review visit www.fairfaresnow.org.uk

Notes to Editors

1. See the full table of the cities and their rankings

2. The issue of regional fares disparity is addressed on p62 of the Department for Transport’s Rail Fares and Ticketing Review: Initial consultation: “There is evidence of an imbalance (even after taking account of differences in average income) between fares in the London commuting area and other parts of the country…we do believe that there is a case for reducing any significant regional imbalance in fares levels. In practice, reducing London commuter fares to levels seen elsewhere in the country is not an option because the significant revenue loss to the industry would simply translate into an increase in taxpayer subsidy. And increasing non-London fares to London levels would entail some very significant fare rises that would turn many passengers away from rail – particularly as commuters outside London tend to have more transport choices, and increased car use and traffic congestion would not help local economies.”

3. Campaign for Better Transport launched the Fair Fares Now campaign in January 2011 to call for cheaper, simpler, fairer rail ticketing. Visit the website for more information www.fairfaresnow.org.uk

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).