Public Transport in your particular part of the region

bilky asko
Posts: 1399
Joined: Sat 08 Nov, 2008 19.48

Though even McDonald's still lets you order at the counter if you require it
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Martin Phillp
Posts: 1460
Joined: Wed 11 May, 2011 01.28

My local station operated by TfL's London Overground has four ticket machines spread over two entrances.

However, while all four sell NR tickets to anywhere in the country, only two sell the full range of TfL Oyster products, while two smaller machines are card only for most of the time because they rarely fill the floats with change.

For this to work, even at a London station where most customers use Contactless or Oyster, they need to install more machines and ensure the full range of TfL Oyster and NR tickets can be purchased without the need for an employee floor walking the concourse.

Every 6 months, I have to get my discount for the bus added to my Oyster card which pre the tube stations being self-service only, you now have to hope there's a member of staff floor walking around the machines who can get into the admin side to add the details.
TVF's London Lite.
Jonwo
Posts: 248
Joined: Sat 26 Apr, 2008 02.05

I think ticket offices or some sort of hub should exist at the big stations like Waterloo, Manchester Piccadilly etc but I do it's a little unnecessary at some stations either numbers are so low, it's not worth the cost or in certain London stations. Indeed, I don't think anyone using the metro services uses a paper ticket.

Sadly it's a losing battle for the unions given that TfL closed all their ticket offices on the London Underground and the Central section of the Elizabeth Line have no ticket offices at all.
bilky asko
Posts: 1399
Joined: Sat 08 Nov, 2008 19.48

Watching BBC Breakfast this morning, I heard that RNIB research found that just 3% of blind people can successfully use self-service ticket machines.

If you get the chance, it's worth a watch (the interview was at about 8:20). I think the issue was nearly summarised by the suggestion that if it's not accessible, it's not modern.
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cwathen
Posts: 1307
Joined: Fri 15 Aug, 2003 17.28

Alexia wrote:One more Tory scorched earth policy before they're booted
I agree.

There is rather a lot being made of 'replacing ticket offices with ticket machines'. Arguably, ticket machines themselves are fast becoming redundant. I would be interested to know, not just the percentage of tickets bought through a ticket office, but the percentage of tickets bought on a station at all as of 2023. However providing the cover to get to a position where mass closures can be announced without really that much fuss outside of the industry is a situation that's been brewing for about the last 15 years without anyone protesting about it and it was entirely predictable.

The mass roll out of penalty fare schemes in the late 00's/early 10's I always felt was unfair in that the only qualification to put a station into a scheme was to have 'ticket buying facilities'. Thus a TOC could install one self service machine on an unstaffed station as if that was the answer to all the world's problems and then penalty fare the station. I always felt that a station should have to have adequate ticket buying facilities before it could be made a penalty fare station. This should include enough facilities (whether manned or a machine) to purchase a ticket within a reasonable amount of time (say 5 minutes) of arriving on the station (for the station's expected usage - including predictable peaks), and stations with 'bottleneck' facilities (such as only a single ticket machine) could never be made a penalty fare. Passengers should not have had to start turning up huge amounts of time before their train just in case there's a queue for an inadequate level of facilities to buy a ticket or be told that if they had not done this and boarded with no ticket then they'd receive a penalty. It was not fair in a time when there was no other option. But regardless of whether or not there was much staff sympathy for that position (there was some from some staff, but often little to none), it did though highlight that many stations did not have sufficient facilities to buy tickets before boarding and unless there was going to be a row back on penalty fares somehow this would have to be sorted out eventually so that passengers could always buy in advance.

And when it was sorted out, you could bet dollars to donuts that the solution would not be more staff nor more self service ticket machines as they seem to cost a somewhat insane amount of money for what is essentially just a self service till in a ruggedized format. A more cost effective and more scalable solution would be found, and if it worked it would put ticket offices at risk. That should have been obvious more than a decade ago.

The solution was of course smart ticketing and being able to buy your tickets on your phone without needing a piece of paper any more. I personally try and avoid it if I can as I don't like the idea of a battery powered device with a glass screen being my only means of proving I've bought something so I do still try to use a ticket office or a ticket machine if there is time when I get to the station. but that is probably not a majority view. The entire scenario described above is now largely gone, you can buy your ticket on your phone as you walk to the station (or the night before) without having to think about how busy it might be when you get there. As long as everything works properly, it's convenient. More convenient in fact than using any station facility, particularly so for people with mobility issues but who are able to easily use a phone. If there was a time for the unions to start making noises and potentially calling strike action over concerns as to where this would lead, it was then. When more people would miss the ticket offices then, that would have had more public support.

Unfortunately after several years of this type of ticketing bedding in and becoming more and more entrenched with more and more people using it, it was inevitable that ticket offices would be viewed as unnecessary. I'm surprised they've gone for announcing such total closures so quickly, and I do think that stations with a certain level of usage should have been ringfenced to require some sort of ticket office even if it is only used for peak times and/or to serve customers who can't buy a ticket through other means), but I'm afraid there probably won't be a huge level of public support for strikes on the basis of ticket office closures and as a result they probably will go through.
all new Phil wrote: Look at McDonalds - they’ve reworked their entire setup to make self service work.
Although I've got used to it, personally I think Maccies was better the way it was before. And as said, they do still provide some sort of counter service if you want it.
all new Phil wrote: What we need is essentially a ticketing system that runs like The Trainline
The Trainline is the model?!?! You want to pay a booking fee on a bloody rail ticket?
gottago
Posts: 259
Joined: Thu 29 Jan, 2009 19.50

cwathen wrote: Fri 14 Jul, 2023 10.51
all new Phil wrote: What we need is essentially a ticketing system that runs like The Trainline
The Trainline is the model?!?! You want to pay a booking fee on a bloody rail ticket?
I expect he was referring to the vastly superior user experience it offers.

And of course, there's no booking fees if you buy on the day of travel.
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Pete
Posts: 7584
Joined: Fri 15 Aug, 2003 13.36
Location: Dundee

cwathen wrote: Fri 14 Jul, 2023 10.51 Although I've got used to it, personally I think Maccies was better the way it was before. And as said, they do still provide some sort of counter service if you want it.
I think that's bc the burgers dont have time to sit under the lamps and therefore the cheese doesn't melt as well and bun doesn't warm through.
"He has to be larger than bacon"
thegeek
Posts: 853
Joined: Sat 04 Jun, 2005 12.35

Just do what the Dutch do and have pay-as-you-go everywhere; and railcards for anyone who want them.

Getting rid of ticket offices before simplifying the ticketing system is a daft idea.
BBC TV Centre
Posts: 65
Joined: Thu 29 Apr, 2021 22.35

Jonwo wrote: Fri 14 Jul, 2023 02.03 I think ticket offices or some sort of hub should exist at the big stations like Waterloo, Manchester Piccadilly etc but I do it's a little unnecessary at some stations either numbers are so low, it's not worth the cost or in certain London stations. Indeed, I don't think anyone using the metro services uses a paper ticket.

Sadly it's a losing battle for the unions given that TfL closed all their ticket offices on the London Underground and the Central section of the Elizabeth Line have no ticket offices at all.
For TFL/LU it made sense with the introduction of contactless payment, where you didn't have to buy a fixed point-to-point ticket, zonal ticketing and what you were charged was based on your day's travel.

The ticketing structure is also very simple and easy to understand - peak/off peak. That's it. No anytime, offpeak, super offpeak, advance, evening out, night out, Sunday out, operator specific and other variations with all sorts of specific restrictions.

The system they've designed is very user friendly and has a low barrier to entry - you just need a bank card (which most people have) or if you are unbanked/use cash or need special tickets loading (season, discounted etc) an Oyster.

This obsession with wanting to force everything to phone this, phone that creates single point of failure.

As for the Dutch ticket windows I recall in Amsterdam in the central station they did have a staffed counter. If you're a tourist and have not got an encyclopaedic knowledge of the country's fare system and the local language, then a person behind the counter is welcome sight as they can advise you what you need to get to your destination.

I do get though a commercial private entity that doesn't want to pay Rick to sit behind a window selling five tickets per day, and twiddling thumbs for the rest.

They could certainly work with a hybrid model - I see TFL staff on the ticket gates often have tablets, if they want railway ticket office staff on the platform why not equip them with a tablet that has the same functionality as the counter?

Therefore they can provide general assistance, as well as revenue generation through ticket sales if needs be and still offer the human aspect for those that require assistance.
Critique
Posts: 980
Joined: Mon 17 Aug, 2009 10.37
Location: Suffolk

I think there’s certainly an argument for rationalising the number of ticket offices across the network, but not shuttering them altogether. There are almost certainly a host of smaller stations which do not justify having a ticket office anymore; for example on the London Overground and Elizabeth Line diamond geezer did a write-up earlier this year of the ticket offices with the lowest sales, which highlights how one of the hugely upgraded Elizabeth Line stations with a new ticket office sells an average of five tickets a day!

As has already been said by others, rationalisation of ticket offices should come hand-in-hand with a massive overhaul of the ticketing system, but it’s difficult to see a way in which that’s ever done properly. As awkward as the endless ticket variants are, someone that currently books a super off-peak fare well in advance is not going to become more enamoured with the railway if there was a switch to just having peak/off-peak tickets, resulting in the price for their journey jumping up significantly. Ticket prices are not going to fall of their own accord, and as has been well-documented are frequently much more expensive in the UK per mile than in many other countries already. To me, it feels like the only way to massively rationalise fares without suddenly pricing out a whole load of people relying on the cheapest advance fares would be to start significantly subsiding rail travel. Of course, that’s exceedingly unlikely to happen because as a country we’re not allowed to have nice things anymore.
cwathen
Posts: 1307
Joined: Fri 15 Aug, 2003 17.28

BBC TV Centre wrote:I do get though a commercial private entity that doesn't want to pay Rick to sit behind a window selling five tickets per day, and twiddling thumbs for the rest.
Where I do start to question the logic of closing quieter ticket offices is that these stations usually already don't have any dedicated ticket office staff but instead have multiskilled everyone. Therefore the argument of 'paying someone to do nothing' is already gone. If Rick works at a quieter station he probably also dispatches trains and patrols the station as well as running the ticket office. In the absence of other station duties, surely it's better he does spend the rest of his time at a ticket counter so that he can sell those 5 tickets a day and generate some productivity during what would otherwise be thumb twiddling time? As it is, the ticket office can be closed but Rick will largely work the same shifts anyway.
Critique wrote:As has already been said by others, rationalisation of ticket offices should come hand-in-hand with a massive overhaul of the ticketing system, but it’s difficult to see a way in which that’s ever done properly.
This will always be the problem. I don't get how the ticketing system ended up getting into quite such a pickle in the first place. Even away from advance tickets, the value for money of rail travel just on walk-up fares is a postcode lottery, even within largely the same area

In Devon (and Cornwall) rail travel is actually very reasonably priced. There is also clear graduation between peak and off peak with off peak being significantly cheaper. Off peak is universally available between any two stations in the two counties, and there is an off peak day return ticket available universally between any two stations too, including the extremities of Penzance-Tiverton Parkway, a journey of over 3 hours. And to top it all off, there is a regional railcard available which slashes a third off all off peak tickets with no qualification beyond living within the area required. In areas with a lot of local stations where suburban rail is a possibility, the train is usually cheaper than the bus. And on any journey of significance the train is usually cheaper than driving.

Cross over into Somerset and the Bristol area - literally next door to this mecca of reasonably priced trains - and suddenly none of that exists. Pricing generally is much more expensive. Many routes have no off-peak option at all. Even where there is one, off peak tickets often only offer a cursory saving over peak. And day returns? On some routes they don't exist. And there is no similar regional railcard scheme, if you don't fall within the demographic of one of the national railcards, you ain't getting no discount. The train is virtually always more expensive than the bus if both are an option and also virtually always more expensive than driving.

How on earth did this happen? In many cases these are the same trains on different parts of their diagram; they're not even different services.

But how do you fix this?
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