St Albans and Harpenden fares rise amid bid to boost transport use
LONG-suffering First Capital Connect (FCC) commuters face an average 5.5 per cent rise in their fares from the start of 2011.
And in a double whammy for those who park at St Albans, Harpenden and Radlett stations, car park tariffs are increasing by an average of 8.5 per cent.
It means that the cost of an annual season ticket from St Albans to London will rise from �2,668 to �2,820 and the equivalent from Harpenden will go up from �2,948 to �3,120.
Add in a travelcard and the annual charge from St Albans to London rises from �3,264 to �3,540 and from Harpenden it goes up from �3,624 to �3,920.
But for those buying a daily anytime travelcard, there will be a small reduction of 50p from St Albans to London and in Harpenden the charge of �29 will remain the same.
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Parking at both St Albans and Harpenden stations will rise from �6.20 to �6.80 daily and from �950 to �1,025 annually with no change to off-peak parking.
The fare increase is lower than the national average of 6.2 per cent and FCC is encouraging customers to buy tickets for trains and car parks for the year ahead at existing prices until the end of December.
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A spokesperson for FCC said: “We have sought to minimise price rises. On most tickets, these are the first rises for two years. We want to encourage continued growth in rail travel and we have set our prices accordingly.”
On the same day as the rail fare increase was announced, transport minister Norman Baker attended the launch of a St Albans initiative aiming to combat congestion and pollution.
Under the umbrella of Network St Albans, it wants more people to ditch their cars and use buses, bikes or walk to work and is particularly targeting small and medium sized businesses.
The MP congratulated the partnership on its work so far and praised its ‘Fresh Ways to Work’ scheme which was launched at the event at the district council offices.
The scheme, which is partly funded by the EU, is also offering businesses the chance to develop a free company travel plan to reduce car use.
The partnership comprises St Albans district council (SADC), Herts County Council (HCC), the University of Herts, Oaklands College, businesses, health trusts and various bus and train companies and its model is now being looked at by other areas across the country.
Mr Baker said it was a great example of localising central government policy as well as pulling various organisations together to achieve objectives.
Mobile phone technology is about to be piloted in St Albans whereby tickets can be bought on a phone and an application can be downloaded to give up-to-the-minute bus timetables by scanning bar codes at bus stops, and there are two hybrid buses in the pipeline.
The partnership is also supporting the implementation of a tram service on the Abbey Line and has produced a simplified, easy-to-use map for St Albans which connects bus and train routes as well as looking to create travel plans at train stations.
St Albans district council leader Robert Donald said: “We have had long term problems locally here in St Albans and across the district. Traffic congestion and our carbon footprint is particularly bad in the city centre. A survey a few years ago indicated that we are the second worse city for CO2 emissions in the country and we have to address that issue.”
n For more information on the scheme visit www.freshwaystowork.org.uk