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First the Worst (nothing changes for the poor)

This is a picture perfect example of everything wrong with our society and how the least affluent are treated. It involves a certain public transport provider with a piss poor reputation, everyone knows of whom I speak, but let's call them First. I could think of more appropriate and entertaining names, but...

So last week, and with dismal inevitability, First increased it's fares again, hiding these changes behind a restructuring of their fare system. Their stated reason for this is to encourage folk to eschew paper tickets in favour of smartphone technology. It doesn't occur to them of course (and the entire reason for this post) that not everyone owns nor can they afford a smartphone. I certainly can't (I despise the damn things anyway, but that's another story).

Apparently, and because of increased complaints regarding punctuality, it was decided, in the rarefied echelons of Chatauex First, the reason for this was because of the time taken to issue paper tickets to customers. Obviously this is horseshit because they know full well they cannot avoid issuing paper tickets in sufficient quantities to make their service more efficient.

I accept that traffic conditions, in gridlocked Britain, are beyond the purview of First to address - this is a cultural shift that our society, sooner or later, is going to have to make. But that's another topic entirely.

Essentially what First has done, to persuade people to use the tech it prefers (assuming the system is reliable of course), is offer a discount to people buying tickets via smartphone. These tickets are then presented via a scanner and this is apparently more efficient.

They do offer an alternative: you can buy a smartcard similar to oyster cards. The problem here, aside from not actually telling people how, is that only a small array of tickets are available this way, none of them include the tickets I want. You would also have to make a minimum purchase of some kind: you couldn't just load a single journey, such as I make, onto the card. The consequence of this is that, the single journey I want to make, is now 50p dearer. This is separate from the cost of buying paper tickets. So not only are people without the preferred technology penalised, but the tickets are themselves more expensive. This is because...restructuring - who knows, their explanations make no sense. A journey that cost £3.50 last week, now costs £4.00 for arcane reasons.

Here then is that picture perfect example: poor people don't have access to expensive phone and app technology and yet they are the most likely to use public transport. On top of that they don't always have the means to pay the minimum entry fees required to make use of oyster cards and the likely such cards will require a certain level of ticket/price to be deposited at a time. Whereas I can buy a single ticket for my journey on the bus, that will not be an option with these cards, even though the poorest need that flexibility more than most.

It is this hubris that is at the heart of corporate Britain and it must be addressed. 


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