Let the train take the strain we’re told. And I do. I’m a fan of the train and use them, as well as buses and the underground to get around Glasgow, and the rest of Scotland so I have to say that I was delighted to hear last week that we are now close to having a single card that travellers should be able to use right across Scotland’s travel network, although these stories have been doing the rounds for a number of years now without anything actually ever coming to pass.
The technology, which will be similar to that used on London’s transport network, will require significant testing before it is ready for use but it could well be in our hands by the end of this year. It’s the only way forward if the various transport operators seriously hope to encourage us all to use their services regularly. There is nothing more frustrating than buying a ticket that you think works across different types of transport only to find that you have to go and stand in a queue to have it validated the first time you use the Underground rather than a mainline train.
And there doesn’t seem to be much coherence with ticket buying policies either. Here’s an example. I couldn’t renew my Zone Card, which expired on a Thursday, because I was out of the country and so had to travel to Glasgow Central on Monday morning to do so. I travel from an unmanned station and couldn’t do it before my journey started. And you’re not allowed to do it on the train because Scotrail operate the train but the Zone Card is operated by SPT.
So I had to buy a ticket for the journey to Central, where I renewed my card, effectively meaning that I had a ticket for the journey I had just had to pay for! But could I get a refund? No. Why? Because Scotrail don’t issue the card, SPT do and they share the revenue so if Scotrail had given me my £3.20 back they would be out of pocket.
Instead I have to be out of pocket because I travel from an unmanned station, and because the ticket issuing system is based on the date my Zone Card expires rather than the date it starts! I could have had a refund if I was buying a Scotrail weekly or season ticket but not because I was buying a Zone Card. You couldn’t make it up.
How can the various train operators seriously hope to encourage us all to use their services regularly and with a smile on our faces if they can’t even get the basics of their ticketing policy sorted out between themselves?
Oh and don’t start me on the number of buses clogging up Renfield Street and Union Street all day long! That’s for another day!