Mayor expects unlimited ‘hopper’ bus and tram fares early next year

by Dave Hill

Sadiq Khan’s one-hour “hopper” public transport ticket will allow an unlimited number of transfers between buses and trams from early 2018 subject to successful technology testing by Transport for London (TfL), he has announced.

The mayor said yesterday that the existing hopper fare, which allows passengers to travel on two different buses or trams for the price of a single £1.50 fare within a 60 minute period, has enabled over 100 million effectively free journeys in the year since it was introduced. The vast majority were bus journeys, with tram travel accounting for two million of the total.

The upgraded technology will also enable passengers to travel by Underground, Overground or other rail services during the same one hour period in between bus or tram journeys covered by the hopper fare, increasing its flexibility (though journeys by those other modes will not be covered by the hopper fare).

The Mayor, who promised that an expanded hopper would be forthcoming when he launched the current version, hailed the impact of the one hour fare so far as being of particular help to low paid workers, who are particularly reliant on bus services, and as encouraging people to switch from car use to public transport, supporting his attempts to improve London’s air quality.

The new figures were also welcomed by Liberal Democrat London Assembly member Caroline Pidgeon, who has been campaigning since 2009 for one-hour bus tickets to be introduced. Colin Stanbridge, chief executive of the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry, added to the praise, saying that, “Making travel within the capital more affordable is a boost to businesses looking to recruit and retain the employees they need to succeed”.

Under Boris Johnson’ mayoralty, TfL objected that allowing free bus transfers of the hopper kind would lose “up to £50m” in revenue plus a “significant” cost of upgrading software to enable such “temporal ticketing”.

The most popular bus route for “hops” has been the number 18, which runs between Sudbury and Harrow Road station and Euston station, while Brent Cross shopping centre has been the hottest “hops” hotspot.

Photograph by Max Curwen-Bingley.

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