Stephen Rees's blog

Thoughts about the relationships between transport and the urban area it serves

Angry commuters hold rail fares ‘strike’

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The Guardian

Strike is in inverted commas because most people taking part in, a fairly imaginative, well organised protest did actually pay their fares. Probably because they are holders of season tickets, as most regular commuters are.

The protest is mostly about the dreadful service – recent fare increases adding insult to injury. So the thought occurred to me is, why we have not seen this type of action here? Maybe we are just so used to poor quality transit that it just does not occur to us that it is worth complaining. After all, we have been grumbling for years and not much is happening. At least in Britain there is the thought that the company might lose its franchise, and get replaced by someone else. That did happen on a  London commuter route – the London, Tilbury and Southend – which was known as “the misery line”, and it is now one of the best in terms of service reliability.

Here there is no choice and there won’t be.  And the only protests were ineffective stunts pulled by the Bus Riders Union which have gained very little support. I think because they lacked the sense of fun that has been behind some of the more successful campaigns like Critical Mass or the Car Free festival. The BRU always come across as a bit grim.

Also note that FGW does have barriers at its stations but still has procedures in place to deal with fare evaders. Barriers, you see, do not stop fare evasion, they just require fare evaders to be a bit more creative.

Written by Stephen Rees

January 28, 2008 at 9:39 am

Posted in transit

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