Since 1980 the real cost of motoring has stayed the same, or even gone down, while bus fares have risen by 31% and rail fares by 37%. British rail travellers pay some of the highest fares in the world. Rural services are few and far between. All in all, using UK public transport can take a certain amount of dedication, or desperation. But we still have some very useful services, especially in and between major cities, and with experience, planning and a bit of luck it can be a great way to get around. The important thing is to check the details. Sources of information on the internet abound. Here are a few to get you started:
- For those over 60 or registered disabled or unable to drive on medical grounds, bus passes will entitle one to free bus travel after 9.00 am weekdays and anytime weekends anywhere in England (if you live in England) from 1 April 2008. Residents of Scotland or Wales have been entitled to free bus travel in their own country for some years. Apply to your district council if you want a free bus pass.
- For public transport information, by bus, coach or train contact the Traveline.
- National Rail – the gateway to Britain’s national rail network with links to the numerous train operating companies.
- Qjump provides a booking service for train tickets and a useful search facility for cheaper pre-booked fares.
- The Man in Seat Sixty-One can tell you how to travel by train (and ship) from the UK to Europe and beyond… Train times, fares, and how to buy your ticket.
- Don’t forget your folding bike! – provision for full-size bicycles is very patchy in the UK at present.
- National database of park and ride schemes.
- – and don’t forget your local bus and train station information desks: some are very good indeed…