9:10pm Wednesday 27th March 2013
We all know that feeling at the train station when, having just selected our journey, our heart drops when we face the double digit figure appearing smugly on the screen before our eyes. Many workers and students commuting daily in and around London, spend thousands of pounds a year on train tickets alone. Although there are minor discounts available for some, working out how much we spend a year on train travel is enough to make most of us feel slightly nauseous. However, apart from the odd complaint here and there, I find it surprising how little these obscene ticket prices are discussed by the public. The general feeling seems to be to simply accept the yearly rises in ticket prices as yet another inevitable expense we are forced to adhere to in the ever more expensive modern western world.
I began to wonder just how much people in our area are spending on their daily travel and, furthermore, if other major European cities also tax their citizens as heavily on public transport. One commuter, Lee Coomber, travels from Kingston to Mayfair every day spending £222 per month on his trip to work. Were Mr Coomber to live in Berlin, this same distance would only cost him £146. In other words, he would be saving £76 every month. Kirstin König, who travels from Raynes Park to Green Park three days a week, spends £132 per month while her Stockholm equivalent would be spending only £90 a month. If these gaping gaps between the cities’ public transport prices are not enough, the contrast in student discounts is even more startling. Seventeen year old Monika Mackay, who travels a 12 minute train journey to college every day, pays £55 per term, which is 66% of her monthly allowance. Another student, Lauren Kelly, pays £154 a term to travel from Ashthead to Thames Ditton, a price which even includes the 33% price reduction from her railcard. Given these high ticket prices, some students resort to not paying at all for tickets, such as one student who would prefer not to be named and claims that “even if I get fined once or twice, it would still work out cheaper than buying a ticket every day.” Students living in Madrid, however, face much more reasonable fares. Every citizen under the age of 21 is entitled to a 35% discount off all train fares and would spend £30 termly for the same length journey, Monika Mackay pays £55 per term for.
Compared to other major European cities, Londoners not only have to battle with appallingly high living costs, theatre and cinema prices, to name just a few expenses, but our public transport system really does seem to be the most expensive in Europe and I for one can’t help wondering: Is it really worth it?
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