London transport fares: Cut in pay-as-you-go Oyster

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Media captionThere's a big change to Oyster fares, reports Tom Edwards

Part-time workers could save money after a change to transport fares which will cut the maximum they can be charged on Oyster pay-as-you-go cards.

The move, set out by the mayor of London, is aimed at helping workers who do not travel every day and lose out on better season ticket rates.

The greatest saving will be £4.90 a day for those travelling through zones one to five.

But the cheapest day travelcard will cost £12 - a 67% increase.

Overall, average bus and Underground fares will increase by 2.5%.

Critics pointed out that for full-time commuters it will be the seventh fare hike in a row.

Transport for London (TfL) said those with unpredictable working patterns will be able to use pay-as-you-go Oyster or contactless payments "with the new guarantee that they will pay no more in a day than one fifth of the cost of a seven-day Travelcard ticket".

At the moment, pay-as-you-go users who top up Oyster cards as they travel pay more than season ticket Oyster users. For example, a seven-day travelcard for zones 1 to 2 costs £31.40 so a day's travel will cost £4.49, against £8.40 for pay-as-you-go.

Analysis: BBC London's transport correspondent Tom Edwards

There are some big changes in this fares package that have been a long time coming.

Most of the parties on the London Assembly have been lobbying for discounts for part-time workers for some time.

Now with a reconfiguring of the discounts if you travel three or four journeys a day a few times a week you'll benefit as your oyster cap is one fifth of a weekly.

TfL have been trying to smooth out the anomalies but only now has there been political backing.

But there is an element of rearranging the furniture here as there is no extra money - it'll cost TfL £20m and that money has to come from somewhere so the off-peak oyster card cap is scrapped, as is the zones 1-2 paper travelcard.

TfL says the changes are "revenue neutral". What that means is there are winners and losers. The mayor's advisers will hope the winners have more political impact than the losers.

TfL estimates 600,000 will pay lower fares over the course of a typical week, when the cap changes come into effect from 2 January.

Image copyright Josephine McDermott

The changes are partly being funded by scrapping the zones 1 to 2 paper travelcard. Commuters will only be able to buy paper travelcards for zones 1 to 4.

The off-peak pay-as-you-go Oyster cap has also been withdrawn meaning customers will not save money by travelling after 09:30 or before 16:00.

London Mayor Boris Johnson said: "By overhauling our fares structure we will put money back into the pockets of hundreds of thousands of hardworking people who make such a vital contribution to London's economy."

'Bitter start'

Sue Terpilowski, from the Federation of Small Businesses, said: "The number of part-time roles in small businesses has increased significantly over the past six years.

"Initiatives to make the cost of travel cheaper will help employees and employers, helping retain staff from outside zones three and four."

Labour London Assembly Member Val Shawcross said the cap change "corrects an unfair anomaly which means people in part-time or flexible work have had to pay more", but she said another year of rising fares would leave a "costly legacy".

Liberal Democrat London Assembly Member Caroline Pidgeon, said: "Finally TfL have recognised that the days when they can fleece part time workers and people who work flexibly must now come to an end."

Green Party Assembly Member Darren Johnson said: "The new daily caps will be very welcome news for the growing number of Londoners having to make do with part-time jobs.

"But for full-time commuters and occasional travellers, Boris' seventh fare hike in a row will be a bitter start to 2015."

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