It cost me £6.60 for a Zones 1 and 2 travelcard. For a tourist, that’s excellent value. Not only do you get to go from A to B, but you get access to a living museum, the oldest metro system in the world. With all it’s old fashioned tiling, elevators, escalators and the classic design of the platforms and trains.
It’s good value compared to the costs of driving a car too. Thanks, in large part, to the exorbitant cost of driving in London. But, for an all zones annual season ticket which sets you back £2,868 a year, it isn’t cheap. For someone on National Minumum Wage, thats 30% of your salary gone.
And that’s where I get a bit socialist. Mexico operates a great metro system, subsidised by the DF government. When the price of a ticket went up from 2 pesos to 3 pesos, they pinned posters everywhere, in anticipation of a little outrage I suspect, pointing out that the true cost of a ticket was 12 pesos.
It would be lovely if London Underground could be run as a public service (ie, not for profit) and have some of the cost subsidised. I do think that crucial elements of national infrastructure should be tax funded public service operations. But it’s not likely to happen, especially in the current economic climate.
But something should be done to make getting around the city an awful lot cheaper for those who can’t afford it. Unemployed, on national minimum wage or retired? Free travel cards. Low paid? A scaling reduction in the price of travel cards. But this, sadly, is all wishful thinking. The photo is of the Tube at Russell Square.