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Looking a gift horse (TfL 60+ Freedom Pass) in the mouth

03 Jul 2019 19:19

Just thought I'd recount this.


Was up in London recently and needed to catch a train from where I was staying (one of the outer London boroughs) to London Bridge. Length of journey meant that I would clock up the full maximum charge of £12.00 per day on my Oyster card. Same went for the person I was with. So £24 total expenditure. We are both aged 60 plus (this is relevant).


We arrived at the train station about 9.10am. We had plenty of time to spare for our appointment later in the morning so were in no hurry and took time to top up Oyster cards and figure out best way to get to where it was we had to go.  We thought we might wait until after 9.30am as it might be cheaper to travel then but an incredibly helpful and knowledgeable station employee told us that we would be up to our £12 maximum fare whenever we travelled so we might as well get on a train before 9.30am if that is what we wanted to do.  This conversation took place quite publicly and was easily heard by three or four other people (not with us) who were also of similar age.

One big difference though - they were Londoners and therefore entitled to, and had, Freedom Passes. These passes entitle anyone aged 60 plus who lives in a London borough to free public transport as long as it is within London - train, bus, tube. 


So we had to spend £24 whilst they had to spend nothing at all. And never do. As long as they are travelling within London and travel after 9.30am. 


Fair dooes. That's the way it is. Those age 60 plus Londoners just had to wait until 9.30am before they could board a train. But do you know what? One of 'em was highly indignant that they had to wait until that time.  She did not see why they should have to wait until 9.30 before they could travel -  for free.


She was even more indignant when above mentioned rail employee told her, and the rest of us within ear shot, that checks had been made lately at places like London Bridge station when people arriving there, with Freedom Passes, went through the ticket barriers at, say, 9.35am. They couldn't possibly have boarded a train after 9.30am. So they were breaking the terms and conditions and having their cards confiscated for a period of time and/or being fined.    


At which point she looked at me and said words to the effect of "Don't you think they'd have better things to do than check up on us for doing things like that?".


I told her that for many in the country they have to be of state pension (age 65 and counting upwards) before they even qualify for a bus pass. And then I reminded her that between us, my companion and I would be spending £24 on travel costs.  But if we were Londoners it would not cost us a penny. 


I told her I thought she was looking a gift horse in the mouth.


But then she started on about having paid taxes all her working life and that because of that she now ought to be entitled to travel for free whenever and wherever she liked.


So me and my companion went through the barrier and left her pontificating on the (cough) 'unfairness' of it all.  I mean, really, just how unfair was it  that she had to wait another 10 minutes or so before she could travel on train, bus and tube - for free. 



6 Agrees
03 Jul 2019 21:05

It is just like the millions of motorists on our roads, they are far too impatient sometimes for their own good, only difference appears to be 10 mins is to long for Londoners, but seconds are too long to wait for motorists. Just ook at some of the comments on previous threads, what some have to say about waiting behind a cyclist.

1 Agree
03 Jul 2019 23:43

@Lynne I totally agree with you. As a London resident I gave up my 60 plus oyster card, which gave me free travel on buses and tube as you describe, for the Devon and Cornwall Railcard, which is not free but gives a discount. I was happy to do this for my better quality of life, however some people, as you describe, really do not appreciate when they are better off!!

2 Agrees
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