On Thursday last week I needed to renew my Travelcard so I could get work. By the time I got home – some 10 hours later – the card was un-renewed and I was almost £10 out of pocket. You can read the full details of my frustrations below. It was a frustrating experience and just the kind of day that puts people off using public transport forever. What made it more ironic is that I am on the board of local travel initiative (http://www.teamvalleylinks.com/) which aims to get people out of cars and into alternative ways of getting to and from work. I am committed to using public transport where possible but why does it have to be so difficult?
There are plenty of lessons one could deduce from my experience and ways in which Nexus and the service operators could make things work better but fundamentally local public transport is not a very interesting political issue. Now the government looks set to spend £32billion on making journey’s to Birmingham a little quicker with its flagship HS2 project. Spent on local public transport, £32billion would go a very long way to making thousands of different journey’s a little bit quicker and little bit more efficient. Millions of people across the country would have better routes to work and leisure activities.
Time for a transport rethink in this country?
The full story if you’re interested….
On Thursday I needed to buy a travel card. So I bought a single bus ticket to Gateshead and arrived at the Interchange at 7:50am. The Travel centre was closed. So I bought a single to Heworth only to find that although the travel centre opens at 8am on a Monday and Tuesday, it doesn’t open until 9am on a Thursday. Now the last morning bus to Follingsby Park leaves at 8:40am, so I had to buy another ticket to get me to work. Three one way singles bought and no travel card.
So I left work at 5:40pm and had to buy a single ticket to Heworth again. Heworth Travel centre closes at 5pm so had to buy another ticket to get me back to Gateshead. Decided to buy a ticket that would get me all the way home at this point given I had been travelling sub-optimally all day. With no one to ask I assumed that as I was in Zone 2 that a 2-zone Transfare would get me home. I live in Zone 2 and I was in Zone 2 so a ticket that allowed me to travel in and out of Zone 1 was what I thought I needed.
I arrived in Gateshead at 17:55 – the Travel Centre that stays open until 18:00 on a Monday and Tuesday but closes at 17:30 on a Thursday. Phew I thought at least I can travel home on the bus using my Transfare ticket. It turns out that was wrong too. While the ticket was valid for Zone 1 and 2 on the Metro it was only valid for zone 1 on the bus. So it would only get me half way home. “Well can I use this ticket as credit on my journey?” No I need a full single unless I want to get off the bus half way home and get on another bus. Of course explaining I had shelled out considerably more than a Day Rover (one day all Zones pass) cut no ice and another £1.30 was handed over.
So my travel card was still un-renewed and I was almost £10 out of pocket for a 12 mile round trip to work.