Get money back on your Oyster card every day you walk or cycle to work?

Conservatives launch consultation on cashback scheme for commuters who go under own steam

by Sarah Barth   April 12, 2014  

DLR bike rack (CC licensed image by failing_angel:Flickr)

London commuters who walk or cycle to work could receive a cash rebate on their annual travelcards to compensate them.

The Conservatives are launching a three-month consultation into a new scheme for flexible ticketing that could include a three-day-a-week travelcard for part time workers from January 2015.

And workers who walk or cycle to work could get cashback for each day they step off the Tube and travel under their own steam instead.

A cyclist with a zone 6 travelcard could claim up to £6.90 a day back under the proposed scheme.

A report by the London Assembly Tories estimates that commuters with a zones 1-3 annual travelcard could get back as much as £207 on their annual travelcard.

Author of the report, GLA Conservative Assembly Member, Roger Evans, said: “These annual commuter refunds will encourage regular cycling and walking, and put cash back into your pocket for making those healthy choices.

“If you have a zones 1-3 Travelcard, and live somewhere like Ealing, Tooting or Newham, you could get £207 back once your ticket expires.

“It would also become easier for people to work remotely for a day or two per week, help make part-time work pay, and help ease the burden on a public transport system that’s coping with high levels of demand.

“We have a once in a generation opportunity to fundamentally reform our patterns of work and how we travel.

“That’s why I’m announcing a 90-day consultation for Londoners. I urge everyone in the Capital, whether you’re a receptionist, cleaner or banker, whether you work part or full time, as an employee, manager or business owner, to have your say.”

In a letter to Roger Evans, the Mayor of London said: "I have listened to your arguments and decided to introduce ticketing products, which specifically address the needs of part-time workers in time from the beginning of next year.

“I will certainly ask TfL to examine if we can encourage Londoners to walk and cycle to work as part of this offering from 2015."

A spokesman for Mr Johnson told the Evening Standard: “The Mayor sees clear benefits in flexible ticketing and has asked TfL to introduce such arrangements from next year.

“As for cash rebates, this is an idea from GLA Conservatives that he notes with interest. He would welcome more detailed proposals as to how such a scheme would work in practice, which he would then be more than happy to discuss further with TfL.”

To make your views on the scheme known, click here.

14 user comments

Oldest firstNewest firstBest rated

I'm not entirely sure how this would work. How do you discriminate between 'cycled to work' and 'worked from home' or 'had a day off'? I like the idea of breaking the "well, I've paid for the tube already so there's no benefit to cycle" position, but surely it's better to create the environment where cycling is the first choice anyway, especially in zones 1-3. If people are currently choosing the tube or bus then the conditions aren't right for them to choose cycling, no matter what refund scheme you introduce.

posted by teaboy [179 posts]
12th April 2014 - 8:08

28 Likes

teaboy wrote:
I'm not entirely sure how this would work. How do you discriminate between 'cycled to work' and 'worked from home' or 'had a day off'

You don't.

It's little to do with cycling, it's simply updating the travelcard to account for the fact that a large number of workers no longer commute five days a week to an office. Working patterns are much more varied than that.

It should have been done years ago, but again, the cycling link is fairly tenuous.

posted by bikebot [624 posts]
12th April 2014 - 9:02

29 Likes

What a good idea.

posted by dunnoh [176 posts]
12th April 2014 - 9:36

34 Likes

If you have your travelcard loaded onto your oyster card it would log the uses and they would be able to see it from that. No doubt there would be some form filling, just your oyster card number as it has to be registered to put more than a week travelcard on them so they would have your address, but would probably work on the zones travelled I.e . not normally into the centre of London. By that you could still use it for local travel whilst not working without penalty. Well that's how I'd do it. As said above little to do with cycling but might be an incentive for some.

cidermart's picture

posted by cidermart [467 posts]
12th April 2014 - 12:43

20 Likes

Or alternatively you could just commute every day by bike, not faff around with overly bureaucratic schemes and count your savings instead . Then plough them into your n+1 bike

posted by arfa [513 posts]
12th April 2014 - 13:07

23 Likes

Why dont they just massively increase the cost of the ticket so people have no choice but to walk, use a bike or car share.

There are no stupid questions, just stupid people.

stumps's picture

posted by stumps [2809 posts]
12th April 2014 - 13:49

23 Likes

bikebot wrote:
teaboy wrote:
I'm not entirely sure how this would work. How do you discriminate between 'cycled to work' and 'worked from home' or 'had a day off'

You don't.

It's little to do with cycling, it's simply updating the travelcard to account for the fact that a large number of workers no longer commute five days a week to an office. Working patterns are much more varied than that.

It should have been done years ago, but again, the cycling link is fairly tenuous.

Yeah, its been reported everywhere with reference to 'cycling', but it sounds more like just a modification to travelcard schemes. Presumably made possible by Oyster and electronic journey logging (back with paper tickets they presumably couldn't tell if you'd used it on any give day or not, so no rebate system would have been possible).

I mean, how do they know you didn't _drive_ instead? I can only assume the cycling reference is because its a hot topic right now, and it then gives all the cycle-phobic types a chance to rant.

(I bet some of them have interpreted it as some sort of unfair 'hand out' to cyclists, given how every single report has talked of it as being a rebate to those who cycle)

posted by FluffyKittenofT... [692 posts]
12th April 2014 - 19:47

18 Likes

stumps wrote:
Why dont they just massively increase the cost of the ticket so people have no choice but to walk, use a bike or car share.

Why in heavens name would anyone want to discourage public transport in London? Was it a serious suggestion that you'd prefer people to car share rather than use the tube?

posted by bikebot [624 posts]
12th April 2014 - 20:23

13 Likes

FluffyKittenofTindalos wrote:
(I bet some of them have interpreted it as some sort of unfair 'hand out' to cyclists, given how every single report has talked of it as being a rebate to those who cycle)

I saw a few comments on the Evening Standard website, from people fuming at "cyclists being paid". Absolute complete bobbins, misleading spin and crap journalism. Someone in the mayor's office probably thought this was a clever way of making it look like they were doing something specially for cycling after delivering so little in the last year.

It is useful to cyclists, and it's poissibly something that might make me use a season card occasionally, but it's a minority use case.

I'd bet there would be as many people who would drive one day in five, as some workers only stay in the capital during the week and then head off to wherever they live at the weekend straight from the office.

posted by bikebot [624 posts]
12th April 2014 - 20:35

13 Likes

Why not just, scrap VAT on bikes, parts and accessories sold at bike shops. That's got to be a cheaper way of doing it as it needs much less admin and form filling and filing.

posted by Initialised [144 posts]
12th April 2014 - 20:41

20 Likes

Initialised wrote:
Why not just, scrap VAT on bikes, parts and accessories sold at bike shops. That's got to be a cheaper way of doing it as it needs much less admin and form filling and filing.

If you got me started on the UK Tax/VAT system, I could really go off on one, but I'll save you that dull rant. The short version, it's almost always cheaper and more efficient to offer a specific incentive rather than complicate the tax rules further.

We already have the ride to work scheme and that does this efficiently. Removing VAT from bikes would be great for the readers of this site who always need N+1 bikes, but it's a poor way of targeting the money at commuters.

More to the point, I don't think we need to make bikes any cheaper. For the average commuter, bikes are already very affordable. As the surveys keep reminding us, it's fear (due to crap infrastructure) that puts people off.

posted by bikebot [624 posts]
13th April 2014 - 8:31

11 Likes

There should be a restoration of the Zones 3-6 tariff - cycling from Zone 2/3 boundary in to Central London is no sweat 20-25 minutes at most.

Many used to take bike to Clapham Junction & ride - avoiding the massive overloading of trains from there inwards, and some still do with folding bikes, and bike parked at CLJ. Those who go from main rail to bike save around £1200/year for the London Zones 1-6 supplement and cover the last part of their commute faster and more reliably for less cost. That means less demand especially for buses and taxis for the last stage of many journeys in Central London, so less needed.

Key will be bike hire and parking at places like Finsbury Park - but NOT the Boris bike share model. This will have a hire for the day, return to same location model, or be a Brompton Dock folding bike, collect and ride and keep out for a few days. Pricing - well 250 days commuting = £1200 so under £4.50/day remains attractive.

Then the issue to address is providing a direct and easy to use route that is not perceived as taking a longer time. Minimising the stop start for traffic signals, through careful use of give way and other by-pass routes.

A key example might be Old St - Clerkenwell Road, and a no-stopping route through the Old Street/City Road roundabout - I suggest raising the roadways in the rebuilt junction and taking cycles and pedestrians under the viaduct in an open public space, eliminating the subways with their restricted tight/90 degree bends and narrow passages.

Another location might be Waterloo, where a bridge over York Road would clear the mess of cyclists and pedestrians bunching up at the crossing and traffic signals.

Making the routes fluid and clean running attracts users, especially when they go where people already want to go.

47 years of breaking bikes and still they offer me a 10 year frame warranty!

A V Lowe's picture

posted by A V Lowe [494 posts]
13th April 2014 - 16:23

8 Likes

bikebot wrote:
stumps wrote:
Why dont they just massively increase the cost of the ticket so people have no choice but to walk, use a bike or car share.

Why in heavens name would anyone want to discourage public transport in London? Was it a serious suggestion that you'd prefer people to car share rather than use the tube?

I was being sarcastic mate, its the type of responce from the likes of the daily fail minus the bike / walk bit.

A decrease is what is needed to encourage more usage and an increase on that inner london charge for the cars and lorries.

There are no stupid questions, just stupid people.

stumps's picture

posted by stumps [2809 posts]
13th April 2014 - 17:14

6 Likes

No worries, I thought it might have been sarcasm. But you do bump into the odd user who has cycling policies that would make pol pot look like a bunch of liberals. Everyone on bikes, no excuses! If you can't ride a bike, you're employer will just have to find someone else who can.

When I do ride in the centre of London during working hours (not often), almost all the traffic seems to be black cabs and buses. Buses simply need to be made cleaner, but I've never understood why we have so many black cabs circling around.

posted by bikebot [624 posts]
13th April 2014 - 19:54

10 Likes