The overall cost of London’s public transport costs will rise by 2.6% on 1st March, but that overall number hides big discrepancies in how the fares rise is being implemented.

Fares were already predicted to need to rise by above the rate of inflation in 2021 anyway, but the rise was then mandated as part of the TfL bailout in October 2020. The deal set the fares rise at whatever inflation was in July 2020, plus one percent — so that gives an overall rise of 2.6%.

A summary of the fares changes sees bus and tram single fares increase by 5p to £1.55 and the daily bus and tram cap is raised to £4.65. The Bus & Tram Pass season price is increased to £21.90 for a 7 Day ticket. The Hopper fare, which was introduced in September 2016, will remain in place, permitting multiple free bus and tram transfers within an hour.

On the London Underground in Zones 1-6 and other rail services in London where tube fares apply pay-as-you-go (PAYG) fares will typically increase by 10p or 20p. A number of fares, including PAYG fares for children, remain unchanged.

Travelcard prices and the associated PAYG caps will increase from 1 March by 2.6%, as they are linked to National Rail fares. As a result, Travelcard season ticket prices and the associated all day PAYG Travelcard caps increase by 2.6 per cent overall.

Concessions and discounts for eligible groups remain unchanged.

The changes in fares have been skewed so that single fares for people travelling within a single zone by tube, train and DLR are largely unchanged, with fare rises for single journeys rising sharply for multi-zone journeys.

A single adult journey in Zone 1 during the rush hour will still cost £2.40, whereas a trip in Zones 1-3 rises from £3.30 to £3.40, a 3% rise. Overall, across all adult single fares, there’s an increase of 3.5%. Likewise, travelling in a single zone off-peak see no fares increase, but the overall increase across all the fares is much higher, at 7.7%.

It could be suggested that raising fares only on the multi-zone journeys fits with the “stay local” mantra of current times, but as the fares are frozen for the outer zones as well, it’s theoretically possible to travel from one side of London to the other, avoiding Zone 1, for the same price as you would have paid in 2020.

Children’s fares on tube, train and DLR are being frozen this year – no changes at all.

However, the daily caps on pay-as-you-go fares which sets the maximum you can be charged in a single day will rise for outer London zones if you’re an adult, by 2.3%, and across all zones for children, by 3.3%.

If you’re one of the under 1% of people still paying cash for tube tickets – then expect a huge price hike, of around 9.5% as TfL continues to discourage that form of payment.

Bus and tram fares will rise, although the increases are kept to the smallest increments possible. A single bus and tram fare will increase by 5p to £1.55, and the daily cap will increase by 15p to £4.65, the same price as three single journeys.

Hire fees for the Santander Cycle scheme are set to remain the same – with 24 hours access for unlimited journeys of up to 30 minutes available for £2.

In normal years, the fares rise would see TfL’s income increase by £123 million, but due to the current situation, they’d expect to earn much less, at £74 million, but the delayed implementation to 1st March reduces that to £60 million.

The extra revenue is expected to be made up of £34m for LU; £31m for bus; and £9m for the DLR, trams, London Overground and TfL Rail.

The biggest fare hike though – that’s over on the Dangleway where adults are seeing an average hike in fares of 10.5%, and 11% rise for children.

That’s expected to increase ticket sales revenues by £400,000 to help plug TfL’s financial black-hole.

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16 comments
  1. Melvyn says:

    The Dangleway must already be having trouble attracting users given the absence of tourism and events at the O2 so increasing fares makes no sense, it would be better to incorporate it into public transport services and make travel cards valid at least for this year as an experiment!

    While someone may be able to cross London in west London for the same fare this isn’t possible for most of east London due to lack of river crossings ,

    How fortunate we don’t pay cash fares in buses as imagine difficulty of finding the 5p extra in coins….

    The amounts raised in present circumstances makes this look more like a case of political decision rather than economic as freezing fares to attract users back and even special offers would likely raise more revenues!

  2. ChrisC says:

    An approx 10% rise on the dangleway raises £400k? That means it’s only generating £4m a year in income at the moment. But what does it cost to operate?

    Time to consider whether it’s really worth operating it as part of the transport system or if it should be flogged off and operated as a tourist attraction.

  3. “whatever inflation was in July 2020, plus one percent — so that gives an overall rise of 2.6%.”

    It’s plus one percent point… “plus one percent” would be 1.616%

    Sorry.

  4. david s says:

    I wonder what the operational life of the cable car is? At some point I am sure it will need to have a costly overhaul or repair.

  5. Frankie Roberto says:

    Any idea how the “overall” ruse of 2.6% is calculated? It’s presumably not the average increase across all the ticket types, as some are likely bought in far higher volumes than others.

    If it’s the average increase across the actual volumes of tickets bought last year, then does it take into account how the distribution of ticket types bought might be affected by the price changes, or is that assumed to be stable?

    • ChrisC says:

      Ignore the % in terms of individual tickets and think more of requiring an increase in revenue of 2.6% and then look at how that is allocated down to individual ticket / fare types. TFL know how much revenue they take for every ticket type they have.

      Then comes some sense checking. A 2.6% on a basic bus fare would take it to £1.54 so you increase it to £1.55 because it’s a “sensible” fare which means you have a little bit of ‘spare’ cash you can use to ameleorate other fares or cover for loss of custom.

      Or you increase other fare types by more so you don’t have to increase others – see the example Ian mentioned where zone 1 tube fares aren’t increased but zone 1-3 go up 3% though part of that could be maintaning rounding of fares.

      In some years TFL may well have increased tube fares / passes to ensure the bus fare was kept at £1.50 but the politics at the moment makes that harder to do.

      And yes you make assumptions on whether or not increasing a fare will dissuade some people from using public transport

  6. Dean Mahomed says:

    Time to cycle to work. These costs are unbearable to manage. I’m barely making enough to survive as it is. Living and working in the UK is becoming even more and more expensive. Everyone has a breaking point.

  7. MilesT says:

    I would guess that the cable car cable will be good for 20 years of light use (although slightly salty river air may be a an issue compared to mountain use). And some refurbishment of other items at the same time. Core machinery, mast head equipment probably OK for 30-40 assuming periodic upkeep and ongoing fix on fail. This is based on what I have seen in Ski resorts over many years (where the equipment is worked harder in harsher environments)

  8. MilesT says:

    1.55 for single bus? What an odd amount.

    My view-A better and braver approach would be to have changed buses to £2 for first bus in the day, then follow on of £1.30-£1.50 for next chargeable fares to a daily cap of £4.50-£4.70 (or maybe £5), and some increase in weekly pass/cap, all within the hopper scheme. Get a bit more money from adhoc users while limiting impact to people who do longer round trips and commuting.

    And maybe create a multimode hopper which caps multi segment journeys to the zonal tube/train fare (I.e. free bus/tram with tube/train)

  9. Frankie Roberto says:

    @ChrisC useful, thanks! It would be interesting to look back at previous years and see how accurately the percentage fare increase was reflected in the actual revenue take and the average fare collected.

  10. Andrew Gwilt says:

    Does that include TfL Rail and London Overground as well. I know it’s a stupid question.

  11. Victor says:

    If almost all payments on TfL are now electronic, why is there an insistence raise fares in 5p increments? Stick with the 2.6% and round it to the nearest penny, not the next 5p.

    @MilesT – charging more for just one bus ride penalises those who only need one bus to commute each way or those who do the train + bus combo.

  12. Milton Valler says:

    Two thoughts…
    1) The number of people I see pushing thru the double-gates at Tube stations to avoid payment, already high, will go thru the roof. TfL staff are told not to challenge them.

    2) Another reason to cement “work from home” as the new normal. Perhaps 1 day a week or a fortnight. Or drive to an offsite location in outer London with free parking,.

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