Introduction to the zonal ticketing system

Page last modified/checked: Friday, 4 October 2002
Before reviewing the actual tickets, it is worth a brief look at the general situation at this time. The gradual decline in public transport usage had continued through the 1970's - the same decade in which wages and inflation took matters in quite the opposite direction. The usual reaction was the withdrawal or rationalisation of services or other re-arrangements. However, often Government "innovations" to try and arrest or at least encourage patronage can result in some interesting outcomes. As we have seen in the previous section 1969 to 1981, a varied range of metropolitan multi-modal tickets had already been tried and by 1978, the then Liberal Transport Minister, Mr. J. Rafferty stated, among other intentions, "the Governemnt will introduce a single ticket on all forms of public transport", also "integrating private bus services for more efficient and economic operation". How these two policies were meshed became a key component of the fare structure described in this section - a new ticket known as "Travelcard". The Government and Transport Ministry also wished to "further reduce the number of tickets held at suburban railway stations". Significant steps towards this had already occurred from 1978, at least with the issuing of single and return tickets.

In so far as street based transport was concerned, Government and private buses and the extensive tramway system would all retain their existing ticket types and issuing procedures. So - it is clear that the main focus of the new zonal fare structure was towards the metropolitan rail system, i.e. ticket simplification. Here, then, it is important to realize that patrons still had the option to purchase separate train, tram or bus tickets, and simply pay for what they used. It was the new ticket known as Travelcard which made seamless transition between all modes reality - it alone was the heart of the new system.

In the brochure produced to describe the new system and in media statements, the Ministry of Transport openly stated that they "could not reduce the number of tickets as much as they wanted". In hindsight, perhaps this statement was somewhat of an omen, for, in comparison with the fare structures that would follow, and the years of fiascos ahead, it was this initial, simple zonal arrangement which still gave patrons the best value and fairest choice - it was only its creators who deemed, somehow, it might not.