In recent times, public transport funding and usage have taken a hell of a battering. The arrival of a global pandemic saw to that after years of public spending constraints. It all is a world away from the times in which this website began. Though that was in the midst of the Great Recession, bus networks were stronger and trust in service provision was higher. All that has been pulverised by years of government policy, fears of disease spread in confined spaces and ongoing labour problems. If ever there was a need to promote the use of public transport, it should be now. After all, everyone is aware of the climate emergency.
Grumbles about capacity, timelines, quality of accommodation and behaviour have been there all the while and are sure to remain given humanity’s imperfections. In 2008, I related an experience of being crammed into a Transpennine Express train while travelling to and from Edinburgh on my outdoors, travel and photography website that resulted in a comment from a then regular contributor saying that trains were ghastly; it must have been living on a commuter line that drew that ire though fellow passengers shared responsibility too. Such invective shows that sharing of more pleasant experiences remains a constant need.
Staying Positive Amid Many Challenges
Such is human nature that we always want something better, so we are quick to complain when all is not seen to be well. A counterpoint to this is the need to be grateful for what we have and share the good things with others. Since the establishment of this website in November 2008, that has been an intention that only partly gets realised.
It is true that you find information on services and on places to find out more, but I hardly have used the place to describe my journeys and that is partly because I have somewhere else for a lot of that. Still, there may be opportunities to write about public transport usage overseas, particularly if I get beyond Britain and Ireland again. Some words have been added regarding previous escapades in other places during a particularly depressing end-of-year period. Anything was better than watching too much news.
We all need to hear of happier developments during the current gloom as well. These could include any extra services that get launched or any improvements in the travelling experience. After all, we have HS2 construction is ongoing in England and London has got its much-delayed new Elizabeth Line. More investment is coming to English bus services too, and it will be interesting to see how warm words about bus services get turned into reality (partial assistance from Bus Service Improvement plans is falling short and fiscal austerity is in charge right now). Rail reform is coming too and many will be watching how that goes, especially given the ongoing pressure to cut costs in the aftermath of the pandemic.
These are hard years for all of us, so we could do with some uplift; economic times really test when costs of living are rising for everyone. That may not be helping for good industrial relations either, for there are numerous strikes ongoing as I write these words. One of the Achilles heels of public transport is dependence on the services of others, particularly when there are labour shortages as well. Multiple stoppages and spells of work to rule practices hardly are going to inspire confidence when many are sure to stick with private transport. There is a lot of building back to do, and that will include all of those who have been discouraged by what is happening at the moment.
21:51, January 31, 2024
Earlier in the month, LNER announced the start of a simpler fares pilot to proceed for two years from 2024-02-05. Only three kinds of fare are available and both Off-Peak and Super Off-Peak fares are unavailable.
Flexibility continues in the form of Anytime tickets with Advance ticket being the most restricted. There is a new semi-flexible offering called 70min Flex that allows travel on any service departing within 70 minutes of the booked departure.
Thankfully, flexibility remains for walk-on passengers despite some appearing to want a book-ahead railway. Apps may be a workaround, but there is something about turning up and going that is so precious.
21:47, January 31, 2024
The RMT union has announced two two-day work stoppages for 2024-02-19 to 2024-02-20 and 2024-03-04 to 2024-03-05, respectively. Like other strikes, this again is related to pay increases that the union complains are not keeping pace with inflation.