The most entertaining newspaper story for me of the past two days (well, after Will Greenwood‘s Sam Burgess article) was the annual whine-fest that comes along every December when the updated rail fares are announced.
Basically the same article is printed every year by every newspaper (and then discussed in distraught tones on Sky News), and it’s enough to make an economists head explode with the sheer irrationality of it:
- “Rail commuters face above-inflation fare rises in the New Year”
- “The increase across all types of tickets averages 2.2– not only above the Consumer Prices Index inflation figure but also in excess of most annual pay rises.”
- “Furious passengers, transport campaigners and union leaders called for an end to rail fare ‘rip-offs’ at a time of overcrowded ‘cattle class’ carriages and poor punctuality.”
Guess what: prices of things go up. And we’ve got the absolute best rail commute system in the world in and around London. There’s like a million trains a day, going from everywhere to everywhere.
But it’s not quite like they’re stinging commuters for something they have to have.
See, the people complaining don’t live in Bermondsey. They live in places like Southend and Oxford. The reason they did this was so they could save 6 figures on the house they just bought, while keeping the London-weighting salary job in London they had.
Then they spend a month complaining that the £150,000 they saved on their house in some commuter belt shithole so they could get better access to swingers parties will be costing them £100 extra in rail fares a year.
If you live in London, you know these people: when you go out for a beer with them, it’s the same story:
- “Can we meet for a beer near Waterloo station? I’ve got to catch the 9.46 home or I miss my connection.”
- “Oh, we got this awesome 3 bedder for like two-thirds the price of what we could get in London, and there are loads of great schools for Travis”.
- “The great thing is the commute! It’s only 45 minutes into Waterloo, and then you’re on the tube!”
- “Well, I guess if you add the trip to the station, and then the tube at the other end, it’s more like 90 minutes.”
- “Per day….. 5 days a week…..”
- “I get a seat sometimes – if I get up early and catch the 7.34. Not on the way home though obviously.”
- “Oh, fuck! I missed my train. You can’t spot me a hundy to get a cab can you?”
They always look like this:
Here’s what you do, whiners. Remortgage your house annually, and pay your rail card that way. Or just take a job where you live. Or move back to London, and use the extra day a week in travel time you save yourself to do something productive. You’re trying to bend Economics 101 back on top of itself. Or they just like whining.