Last Thursday, 29th August, PAYG was extended to Radlett, Potters Bar and Brookmans Park. Both Oyster and contactless are accepted at the first two, while Brookmans Park is the pilot for a new breed of stations accepting contactless only. The official launch took place at Radlett in the morning with the local MP, the new transport secretary and other GTR senior staff. More detail about fares follows, but first some quotes on the day:
Mr Shapps, Secretary of State for Transport, said:
I am delighted that passengers will now benefit from new contactless Pay As You Go journeys at Potters Bar, Radlett and Brookmans Park. This helps make travel cheaper, easier to purchase and means more flexible and convenient journeys for passengers on a modern transport service. Our smart ticketing roll-out is also set to benefit passengers at Luton Airport and Welwyn Garden City later this year.
Mr Dowden, MP for Hertsmere, said:
I’m delighted that after years of campaigning, we finally have contactless pay as you go travel in Radlett and Potters Bar. I know this will make life easier for commuters and particularly people who travel irregular hours, which more and more people are doing with the increase of part-time working and working from home.
David Gornall, GTR’s Commercial Director, said:
We are delighted to give passengers at Radlett, Potters Bar and Brookmans Park more choice and convenience through the introduction of pay as you go. We have worked closely with Transport for London and the Department for Transport to realise this ambition and look forward to further expansion of pay as you go later this year.
Shashi Verma, Chief Technology Officer at Transport for London said:
Pay as you go has helped revolutionise travel on Tube, rail and bus services across London, with around 60 per cent of all pay as you go journeys in London now made using the convenience of contactless, which means you never need to queue to top up or buy a ticket. We are delighted that more customers will be able to take advantage of pay as you go and we continue to work with the DfT and GTR on expanding it to more stations, making travel more convenient for all.
The key words to take from all of this are choice and convenience. PAYG is certainly an extra choice alongside paper tickets and the Key smartcard, and it is convenient because you literally just touch and go. The issue comes with Mr Shapps’ assertion that it will be cheaper. It might be, particularly for single fares, but there are a lot of cases where it won’t. Weekends are the big losers because super off-peak fares will almost certainly be cheaper than PAYG. There are also offers like groupsave and kids for £2 which cannot be offered on PAYG. Finally, the caps for Radlett and Potters Bar are slightly cheaper than the Anytime travelcard but more expensive than the Off-peak travelcard; and weekly caps on contactless are much more expensive than the existing travelcard season tickets.
The fares database has some interesting anomalies from Radlett. Most surprisingly there are no fares to Kentish Town. This is clearly a mistake and has been reported to both TfL and GTR. If you make the journey you will be charged a fare, but it might be more expensive than it should be. There are also no fares defined to Northern line stations between Chalk Farm and Edgware. I can see the point here in that the Northern and Thameslink lines run quite close together and you can only interchange at Kentish Town and then Camden Town, but I don’t think they should rule out people making the journey, particularly to the first few stations. Finally it seems as though Hendon has been priced incorrectly. It’s dual zoned 3/4 but the fares from Radlett put it in zone 3 instead of 4.
I can’t see any obvious issues from Potters Bar.
At the moment there is no daily or weekly capping when travelling to/from Brookmans Park. I don’t know what happens if you make lots of journeys in one day, I’m still trying to get official clarification. The logical situation would be that you’ll be capped within zones 1-9, and possibly to Potters Bar, but then you’ll pay the extension fare for Brookmans Park for each journey you make. Finally there are some missing fares for avoiding zone 1 when going to Chafford Hundred, Grays, Ockendon and Purfleet. If you make those journeys you will be charged the via zone 1 fare, even though the cheaper fares are available from Potters Bar.