Transport for London have belatedly announced the 5.6% average New Year fares increases. The delay has meant that some small LU few-fare machines will be closed for the first weeks of the new year until they can be manually reset with the new fares.
The delay was due to a "down-bidding fares war" between the two main contestants in the upcoming Mayoral election. Ken Livingston claimed that Transport for London was "awash with money" and that,if elected, he would withdraw the originally proposed 7% increase. A desperate Boris Johnson went to his mate George Osborne for some more dosh and was able to cut the 7% increase to 5.6%
Realising he was still losing the war of words, Boris started to indulge in some "on the hoof" innovation around the fares system. His idea of charging a cheaper rate for journeys ending before 7.30 in the morning was supposed to assist lower-paid workers who tend to start work earlier. However, being almost entirely ignorant of the practicalities of tube travel (preferring bicycle or limousine depending on the presence or absence of cameras) Boris didn't know that fares can only be set on the time of touching-in an oyster card. Setting the fare on the touch-out time means any delay could lead to a higher charge and a very dissatisfied travelling public!
The new travelcard prices (daily, weekly, monthly or yearly) are being increased by more than the 5.6% average. Maybe this trend will continue and culminate in a solely pay-as-you-go system operated by "wave and pay" technology, where money is deducted from your bank card instead of Oyster? LU will dip its hand directly into the bank accounts of its passengers.
The "technological investments" that these fare increases are intended to fund will reduce staffing requirements in years to come and result in the kind of soulless system, deserted of staff, that you see on the continent and elsewhere. When did the travelling public ever request less uniformed staff on the transport system? Like it or not, they’re paying for it!