So off to the station this morning to buy a return to Kew Bridge, because my season ticket has run out and there’s no point buying a new one just before going on hols. Last time I bought a ticket it was at the ticket office at Vauxhall and it was months ago, before this year’s price rise, because the old ticket machines had a fixed number of buttons for stations, and they hadn’t got one for Kew Bridge. And last time I bought a return ticket it was something over six quid – enough that even if I only get 3 days usage out of my weekly ticket (15 quid for zones 2 & 3) it’s worth buying it anyway. The ticket office at Vauxhall is pretty slow and always has a queue, but they’ve put in whizzy new ticket machines including one at the back entrance to the station, and they have touch screens so you can enter any station name you want. So I headed in to buy my ticket this morning, wondering how much the return would have gone up by.
The answer? Minus three pounds. £3.30 for a return ticket, peak rate between Vauxhall and Kew Bridge. What? I thought at first the machine was broken, but then I checked the actual ticket and noticed it actually is between Vauxhall and Kew Bridge – the ones I was buying before were from ‘London Terminals’ to Kew Bridge – all very well if you want to go into Waterloo itself, but a bit pricey if you don’t. Vauxhall, being also in zone 2, works out cheaper. I’m curious now as to what they’d sell me if I tried the ticket office again, but not so curious as to actually stand in the queue to find out.
A quick calculation with the old shoes and socks off also reveals that if I’m taking off only one day in a week, I’m better off buying four returns than the weekly travel card (and according to SWT’s own prices, I’d be better off buying five of them than shelling out for their weekly ticket between Vauxhall and Kew as that’s over £20). Which puts my miserliness in direct conflict with my terminal impatience. For the princely sum of £1.80 saved, I’d have to use the machine every single day, and it would only take one bewildered tourist to ruin my morning and make me miss my train. Hmmm. What would you do?
And, in other news, in my round up of urban signs of spring I missed one vital milestone: the first sighting of a ‘tox ‘ for the year. I don’t know what’s happening north of the river, but I only just spotted my first ‘Tox 07’ on the approach to Putney this morning. Is it just me, or are they getting later every year? Me, I blame global warming …