|WARNING: Contains rant
Mad Scientess Jane Expat
Earlier this week, some Green Party representatives came through the train on my way home from London and gave me a survey. One of the questions read, "Do you think your rail ticket gives you value for money?" [tickyboxyes] [tickyboxno]
I paused for exactly 0.0000001 seconds before marking an emphatic cross in [tickyboxno]. Once I finished the survey, I vented my feelings by marking over the cross a couple more times. I suspect that making the survey A6-sized, thereby excluding any space to write comments, was a smart calculation on their part.
Allow me to explain. My monthly rail ticket from Cambridge to London, a distance of less than 60 miles, costs me £361.40. To put that into perspective, it costs more than my half of the mortgage on our three-bedroom terraced house. (Let us not talk about the additional transport expense I have using my Oyster card once I get to London. I spend over £4k a year getting to and from work.) The trains from Cambridge consistently run five to ten minutes late in the morning. In order to get a seat going either direction, a commuter must board at least ten minutes before the scheduled departure time. The non-stop trains only run once every hour and a half. The "fast" ones that pause at Royston and Letchworth run every half an hour. Those stops adds 8-10 minutes to the journey, which doesn't sound like a lot unless you are making that journey five days a week.
In my opinion, the only way that ticket would represent value for money is if the direct, non-stop trains ran every five minutes, if I were guaranteed a seat and if it didn't cost more than my damn mortgage. For that amount, I think the chap who checks my ticket and railcard should have to smile back at me when I smile at him. I won't insist on a cup of tea and a biscuit, or a little robot to come along and polish my shoes when it rains. That's a bit much. But if the Green Party can guarantee me those things for the current price of my rail ticket, I'll become a British citizen just so I can vote for them.
Of course, you realise what you're actually paying for is the "cheap" tickets (and shareholder's profits) of the previous generation? =:o\ (Plus a little bit towards the hypothetical improved safety and efficiency of the service for the generation that follows you - i.e. once they finally catch up on all the routine maintenance that should have been done in the early 90s.)
Edited at 2010-01-21 10:02 pm (UTC)
Hm, no, I didn't know that. It doesn't make me less resentful, but it does provide some perspective on the situation!
If it makes you feel better, Japanese trains run on time.
Wait, that probably wouldn't make you feel better... hmm. Well, they're not cheap! And forget about getting a seat. The most important line in central Tokyo doesn't even HAVE seats during rush hour. No joke, they fold up into the walls. And despite that savings of space, it's still about trying to choose whether it's better to just rest your body-weight on the people around you when the train turns, stops or starts, or if you should rest your elbow on 3-4 shoulders and probably in somebody's ear.queuebert
commutes by train, and now in winter (though not exactly the freeziest parts) he still gets off of his train sweaty, because even with the air-conditioners there's too much body heat. Also, he's not on that super-line... just other lines which drag people out of the suburbs into the city (obviously, they run well over capacity too...)
And yeah, it's not cheap!
There has to be a more efficient and comfortable way to pack people into trains besides sitting or standing. There must be. Maybe we could all climb into pods and be stacked, and then popped out when we reach our destinations. That would be comfy.
I hear your rant. If I were to get public transport (train + bus the last few miles) to work, I'd be ~£340 a month for a 100 mile round trip. Which is why I drive: ~£100 a month. The savings in time (up to 1.5 hours less travel time each day) and money are worth the crap we occasionally experience. Don't fancy driving into London though!
Huh. You're making me wonder if it could end up being cheaper to drive. I imagine the congestion charge plus parking probably negates the savings, but who knows?
The driving cost I quoted is based on two sharing, no congestion charge, and no parking charge. If I was driving on my own, it'd be ~£200 a month. Which is still a good deal better than £340! But one person driving is very tiring. Perhaps you could fine someone to share with? There are bound to be people doing that journey. This
is an interesting wee site for arranging lifts if you can't find anyone by word of mouth, although it'd be better to go with someone you know in some way already.
There are a lot of job opportunities for me in the Cambridge Science Park
, and even though I could get a train from my local station in London, the cost of a ticket plus the rigamarole at the other end to get to the park made it not worth it.
Yes. Pretty much the only thing that allows me to do this is the London weighting of my salary. It wouldn't work the other way round.
Hmmmm, I get a job in Cam then I'm living there. That is too much, by a long long way.
Yes, I would advise that. The only reason I can afford the commute is the London weighting of my salary. You definitely wouldn't want to live in London and work in Cambridge.
I'd only go in to Central London a couple of times a month, so it would be a bit silly for me to live in North London and commute out. Yet, I may not get any of the jobs I'm applying for in Cam.
2010-01-22 18:09 (UTC)
heretofore known as a nanila-second
Cor, I get my own prefix? Most people have to win a Royal Society medal or some such to get that!