It’s the first day back at uni, and I am late. While running towards the train station, I fish the £78 for my monthly travel ticket out of the wallet. At the ticket machine I desperately start pressing the buttons while holding my Oyster Card to the touchpad. But what’s this? The price is £81.50! Completely baffled, I fruitlessly search every pocket. By the time I’ve found my debit card and refilled my Oyster the train has left the station.
Once again I am reminded of the short-sighted British government. If anything, especially in light of the recently announced cuts to education and new reduction of post graduate funding, the prices for student travel fares should decrease not increase. Or maybe they just want the student population to suffer.
This week all travel season tickets increased by an average of 4.2 per cent. I fully understand that a rise of £3.50 a month is not a matter of life and death, but the prices themselves are already ridiculous. When the amount of money you spend travelling back and forth to your university is close to your monthly food budget, something is wrong. A student’s budget is limited. This year, I actually wished for a month’s travel card, when my parents asked me what I wanted for Christmas!
You should count yourself lucky if you’re “only” paying £81.50 – the fare for zone 1 and 2. Forced out of inner London by rent increases, a student living in zone 3 or 4 has to pay £95.70, or even £117.20, each month if they want to make use of public transport.
When looking at the prices in other European capitals, the travelling costs for students in London are incomparable. In Oslo the monthly travel card for students is nearly half the price, at £42 whilst in Paris a student pays no more than £ 27.70.
I know of several students who can’t afford student travel cards and must find alternative ways of commuting. Cycling is good, but not on icy roads in pitch-black winter evenings.
So, as I count my pennies wondering whether to splurge on a £1 bowl of soup for dinner, before risking death by heavy goods vehicles on my 3-zone bike ride home, I hope next year’s Christmas actually results in a travel card and not new bike gloves.