Save our Travelcard! Campaigners warn of fare hikes double whammy if one-day card is withdrawn

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Rail passengers face a double whammy of fare hikes if the one-day Travelcard is withdrawn, campaigners warned on Thursday.

They said off-peak fares into London would rise by about seven per cent if Mayor Sadiq Khan presses ahead with plans to axe the day Travelcard from January.

This would come two months before the annual rise in train, Tube and bus fares is expected to result in prices increasing by about eight per cent.

More than 20 organisations and local authorities have joined the campaign to save the day Travelcard, which offers unlimited journeys on the Tube and buses. They are being axed by the mayor in a bid to generate £40m a year of additional income for Transport for London.

From January, travellers will have to buy a national rail ticket and then use Contactless or Oyster cards to travel on public transport within the capital.

Campaigners said the day Travelcard provided a “vital link to the capital” for individual passengers and families, sheltered them from the highest fares and allowed “integrated” travel – making it easy to switch between train, Tube and bus - on a single ticket.

They said half of the 14.2m Travelcards issued each year were to children, young people, families, disabled passengers and pensioners.

A letter to the mayor, organised by the Campaign for Better Transport, has been signed by Surrey County Council, Luton, Medway, Slough, Watford and Wokingham councils, London TravelWatch, the Federation of Small Businesses and the Night Time Industries Association.

The letter states: “Without the Day Travelcard, fares will rise substantially. On average, off-peak fares for individuals will rise by seven per cent – and families will pay 16 per cent more for their tickets.

“Worryingly, this will come on top of a general fare rise likely to be eight per cent, making travel to London far less attractive, and so damaging our city’s economy.

“It is not impossible that the withdrawal of the Day Travelcard, far from filling a gap in TfL’s coffers, will actually have a negative impact on TfL’s income stream.”

Norman Baker, from Campaign for Better Transport, said: “The sheer number and breadth of organisations which have signed this letter shows that this decision is not only unpopular, but also potentially disastrous for the capital’s economy.

“At a time when we should be doing all we can to encourage people to use green public transport to access London’s shops, museums, art galleries, public spaces and attractions, this move is a retrograde step.

“Transport for London must rethink its plans as a matter of urgency and work together with the Department for Transport and the train operating companies to find a way to save the Day Travelcard before it’s too late.”

City Hall says it has been forced to consider the withdrawal of the day Travelcard due to the requirement for TfL to generate extra income to enable it to break even this financial year, while also making substantial savings.

Talks with the train companies to enable TfL to take a bigger share of the Travelcard income have failed to achieve a breakthrough, despite the railway industry’s wish to retain the Travelcards.

TfL says that under the current arrangement Londoners are effectively subsidising the cost of travel for people living outside the capital.

A spokesperson for Mr Khan said: “The Mayor is being forced to consider the withdrawal of Day Travelcards in order to meet the requirements of the Government’s funding settlement with TfL– a deal that was required solely because of the impact of the pandemic.

“He has been clear he does not want to do so, but he has been left with no viable alternative at present.

“The Mayor’s team is actively discussing all options with train operating companies, and is working with them to try to find a financially acceptable alternative that would allow Day Travelcards to remain available."