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PostPosted: Mon Aug 30, 2010 1:36 am 
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A Kent pensioner wants free nationwide train travel for the over 60s.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-kent-11104001

Whilst of course it would benefit pensioners, I doubt that the rest of the country could afford pensioners from Glasgow scooting off to Eastbourne to play bowls every other weekend! Plus regional authorities can decide whether to give free train travel in their local area anyway, as the West Midlands, Wales and London does - something the report should acknowledge.

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 30, 2010 2:32 am 
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I don't have a problem with Pensioners having free travel, just those that will abuse it and travel on as many buses or trains as possible simply because they can. If this happens then the trains will get worse rather than better (Less funds for new trains, etc...). Personally I think that it should only be for the local area

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 30, 2010 8:15 am 
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And are you surprised? I don't know many old people who would if asked "Do you want free train travel" answer "No, sorry, I like to pay".

I'm pretty sure non-express trains are free for seniors in CZ (buses aren't though).


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 30, 2010 9:38 am 
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Pretty stupid when we should be raising the pension age anyway.

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 30, 2010 12:01 pm 
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Does anyone want the opinion from the bloke who does concessionary travel passes?

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 30, 2010 12:34 pm 
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When will people in this country (and by this country I mean the UK) realise we don't have any bloody money left? While it might be "nice" to give pensioners free train travel, we just can't afford it.

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 30, 2010 1:01 pm 
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I'd say it's more important to give students free travel... since that actually contributes to the future of the country and is useful.

OAPs get local travel on buses, they don't need to be able to go jaunting off to London whenever they feel like it. Ageist, yes - true, probably also yes, but I don't see what good it does.

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 30, 2010 1:20 pm 
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andel wrote:
Does anyone want the opinion from the bloke who does concessionary travel passes?


No, bugger orf.

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 30, 2010 2:41 pm 
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andel wrote:
Does anyone want the opinion from the bloke who does concessionary travel passes?

Shoot.

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 30, 2010 2:45 pm 
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Perhaps scrap the railcard fee and give all disabled and over 60s a third off travel (without a railcard). I wouldn't have a problem with that :)

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 30, 2010 3:58 pm 
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orudge wrote:
When will people in this country (and by this country I mean the UK) realise we don't have any bloody money left? While it might be "nice" to give pensioners free train travel, we just can't afford it.


Hit the nail on the head.

Still be interesting to hear Andel's opinion though.

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 30, 2010 6:06 pm 
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Cheaper train travel? Sure. Free? No. All the other train travellers would just have to absorbe the cost with even higher travel costs, which is the last thing we need.

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 30, 2010 6:17 pm 
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Kevo00 wrote:
orudge wrote:
When will people in this country (and by this country I mean the UK) realise we don't have any bloody money left? While it might be "nice" to give pensioners free train travel, we just can't afford it.


Hit the nail on the head.

Still be interesting to hear Andel's opinion though.


Indeed, shouldn't the education system (such as scrapping tuition fees) and NHS deserve more funding before allowing pensioners to go on a jaunt all over the country for free, although I do agree, it would be good to give free rail travel, you have to remember priorities :( .

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 30, 2010 8:13 pm 
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Why not free travel for everyone?
Maybe I'm more of a socialist than most people here, but in many countries, most (if not all) roads can be used for free. You just don't recognize this as a service, because you don't get in touch with the people building and maintaining these roads.
In most regions, public transport is subsidized anyway, so why not scrap all the ticket-vending-machines and go for free? Capacities would need to be increased, so it's not a good idea to make everything free from the start.
I'd start with free rides on local trains and buses at times where commuters are at work and trains are half-empty. But this has to be done for everyone, not just for old people.


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 30, 2010 8:34 pm 
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doktorhonig wrote:
Why not free travel for everyone?


Because in Britain, at least, we simply have *no* money. We have a national debt of close to a trillion pounds!

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Maybe I'm more of a socialist than most people here, but in many countries, most (if not all) roads can be used for free


While the roads can generally be used "for free", they're sure as hell not free to build or maintain. Motorists pay through the nose, primarily through fuel tax, but also the annual road tax. Motorists actually pay in far more than they "receive" in terms of roads funding in the UK - but, of course, it's not ring-fenced. (Smokers and drinkers pay out more in tax than it costs to treat smoking and drinking-related diseases on the NHS, for instance, too, supposedly.) Take away all this motoring income, and you'll just have a bigger hole to fill. The same goes for public transport.

Money does not, alas, grow on trees.

It does seem to me though that all of this privatisation over the past 20 years or so, in both roads and rail, has resulted in many more costs for "middle-men". All these for-profit companies need to earn their profit somehow, and that's generally going to be by increasing costs to the taxpayer. Privatisation is supposedly meant to bring competition, but the UK rail franchises, for instance, have pretty much no competition (with a few exceptions), and fares keep rising. (This is in contrast to air travel, for instance, where competition from the low-cost carriers have resulted in the former state-owned flag carriers reducing prices drastically in recent years, relatively speaking.) Now, I haven't performed an in-depth economic analysis of this, so I may well be wrong, but I can't help but thinking that renationalising the railways and cutting out so many layers of bureaucracy might help to ultimately cut costs.

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 30, 2010 9:13 pm 
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doktorhonig wrote:
Why not free travel for everyone?


It's a nice thought, and in an ideal world, it'd be a practical one. But you have to remember that "free travel" isn't free: someone needs to pay for the maintenance, staff wages, invest in new rolling stock, etc., so you would end up paying more elsewhere, like in taxes. As orduge pointed out, roads aren't "free". You don't pay a direct fee (on most roads), but you have all kinds of taxes directly related to motoring and these (should) go to maintaing the roads. Therefore, it's not a direct cost, just a cost that's piled on somewhere else.

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 30, 2010 11:01 pm 
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doktorhonig wrote:
Why not free travel for everyone?


Even if the country could afford it, I wouldn't support this. Why? Its unfair to expect those who won't use public transport every day to subsidise those who do. I doubt numbers travelling would substantially increase if public transport were free, except in areas where there is a dense enough service. My local bus runs every 30 mins and takes 25 mins to get into town. Why should I wait for that when I can drive into town in 10 mins?

Also, I assume that Austria has no road fund license or local property tax.

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 31, 2010 1:52 am 
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Privatisation (being careful what I say here, in the presence of a PhD economist!) is supposed to increase efficiency and innovation, both of which were highly lacking among British Rail. Whilst we certainly got the innovation (BR would have never invested in Intercity MUs for one, or painted them garish pink, or advertise Pendos as 420ft limos, etc), the efficiency is debatable. Secondly, although passenger numbers skyrocketed (good thing), so did costs (bad thing). Anyone know if the subsidy per passenger is higher or lower today than under BR?

Anyway yeah. Privatised services - even though the company has to make a profit, they have all incentive to cut costs to make the maximum profit. The general idea is that everyone wins - a leaner company which costs less to maintain overall, and makes a bigger profit.

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 31, 2010 8:26 am 
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Subsidy per passenger is higher now, even allowing for inflation - the annual figure usually mentioned is £4bn, when BR managed on about £1.5bn. Part of this is because government has invested some extra money anyway, but a large proportion gets lost in transaction costs. I'm not in favour of re-nationalisation, but the rail industry needs to have fewer firms.

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 31, 2010 9:06 am 
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orudge wrote:
Because in Britain, at least, we simply have *no* money. We have a national debt of close to a trillion pounds!


All EU members have a deficit, except Luxembourg. We all have huge debts, but this isn't about money, it's about redistributing resources. A train doesn't become much more expensive to run, if there are 100 people instead of 10 in it. That's why I would give away free train rides on the not-so-busy lines at not-so-busy times first. This would also help against the "flat-rate effect" that people travel around the country just because they can.


orudge wrote:
While the roads can generally be used "for free", they're sure as hell not free to build or maintain. Motorists pay through the nose, primarily through fuel tax, but also the annual road tax. Motorists actually pay in far more than they "receive" in terms of roads funding in the UK - but, of course, it's not ring-fenced.


I have to admit that I do not know the situation in the UK that well, but studies in Austria have revealed that the "poor motorist paying for everyone" is nothing more than a fairytale. Of course, he pays more, since he has to buy a car, pay for insurance, repairs and fuels, but most of the taxes he pays are "value added tax", which are not necessarily meant to be spent on road infrastructure. I pay VAT when I buy apples, but the government doesn't give me a free apple-cutting-knife after I've bought 1000 apples. VAT is there to pay for all the generic stuff that has to be paid for, like politicians and (unfortunately to often) roads. Not to mention that many road projects actually decrease the value of nearby buildings, while subway and tram lines increase their value.
The few taxes that are very specific to motoring are used up for snow removal and maintenance. New road projects are almost entirely financed using general taxes which are (mostly) vat and income tax.


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