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Author Topic: Flexible seasons - practicalities and questions  (Read 3300 times)
Birdie100
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« on: June 21, 2021, 02:23:30 am »

Edit - GrahamE ...
Flexible Season tickets - offering 8 days of travel in a 28 day period - on sale from 21st June, valid from 28th June
Intended to provide a fare option for those who need to commute around 2 days per week. 
* For five day commuters, a weekly or longer season will almost always offer better value
* For one day a week, individual tickets remain better value
* For off peak travel, for railcard holders, and for overnight shift workers, other tickets are likely to offer better value

* Scroll down for general Flexi Season details
* See http://www.passenger.chat/25135 for Melksham to Swindon example
* See http://www.passenger.chat/25137 for Chippenham to London example
End of edit

Please feel free to split this - but as a possible returning commuter I need some help! I use this as an illustration that the new ticket apparently just seems to make things yet more complex!

Suppose I wish to commute to Barbican from Twyford 8x days a month in peak hours. Using the GWR (Great Western Railway) site (as I must - this is a smart ticket only) there appear to be two options - a Flexible Ticket for £211.20 and another for £361.20. One is for Paddington, the other for London Terminals. There appears to be no linked ‘Travelcard’ option for the tube as you’d be used to for the classic day/weekly/annual ticket. I assume each offer 8x days travel

Why would anyone ever buy the London Terminals Flexi ticket? From TfL» (Transport for London - about) a single Oyster (Smartcard system used by passengers on Transport for London services) tube fare is £2.40. So 16x £2.40 is £38.40. I get it’s the purchasers responsibility to check, but that seems a steep penalty of nearly £100 for falling down that trap!

Add to that this flexi ticket (I assume) can’t be treated as a gold  card, and suddenly this ‘offer’ loses its value.

What I can’t work out is if you ‘exhaust’ the FlexiTicket eg actually end up doing 9x days whether you can top up the days as needed or simply reset and rebut a new ticket. As a former annual ticket holder it was a ‘perk’ to have the free weekend travel - now that weekend trip becomes very expensive!
« Last Edit: June 21, 2021, 01:38:07 pm by grahame » Logged
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« Reply #1 on: June 21, 2021, 09:31:14 am »

This topic split from http://gwr.passenger.chat/24896 at the excellent suggestion of Birdie100 to look at the practical application of the new (as I write) flexible season tickets.

Best "seeded" with the original poster's questions at the top of this thread, and details (just below) from GWR (Great Western Railway)'s FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions):

Quote
What is a Flexi Seacon ticket?

A Flexi Season ticket provides customers with 8 days of travel in 28 days - any time between two named stations.

The 8 days of travel doesn’t need to be specified in advance, giving part-time commuters more flexibility to travel when they want and need.

Flexi Season tickets allow commuters to make eight return journeys over a 28-day window, while saving at least 20% on the cost of an equivalent monthly season ticket, when travelling two days a week at peak times.

Flexi Season tickets are available as a Smartcard ticket which you can buy at GWR.com, our app or from our ticket offices. If you don’t have a GWR Touch Smartcard then register for a smartcard here. Please allow plenty of time to get one before you travel - they can take up to 5 days to arrive by post.

Alternatively, you can visit any of our ticket offices to get your smartcard on the spot.

Quote
How can I buy a Flexi Season ticket?

You can buy a Flexi Season ticket on GWR.com or our mobile app, or you can buy one at any of our ticket offices. Flexi Season tickets are currently only available as a Smartcard ticket.

Smartcard - If you have a GWR Touch Smartcard, you can buy your Flexi Season ticket at GWR.com or GWR app and add it to your Smartcard when you get to the station by ‘touching in’ on the yellow reader on the gate or at a platform validator. You can also buy Flexi Season ticket at any of our ticket offices.

If you don’t have a Smartcard then please visit our ticket offices to get it on the spot or order it free of charge at GWR.com/touch; allow plenty of time to get one before you travel - they can take up to 5 days to arrive by post.

If you’ve already got a GWR Touch Smartcard, all you need to do is head to our Season tickets purchase page and enter the relevant details for your journey in order to buy.

Quote
Is a Flexi Season ticket the same as a Season ticket?

A Flexi Season ticket is a new, more flexible, kind of season ticket that allows 8 days of travel in 28 days with unlimited travel, from the time you activate your day pass until 04:29 the next morning, between two stations each day that it is used. It’s great for commuters travelling during peak times 2-3 days a week, Monday to Friday, as it offers an alternative to a traditional season ticket.

Quote
Where can I use a Flexi Season ticket?

The Flexi Season ticket is available on most of our popular GWR commuter routes. To see if your route is available, head to our Season tickets purchase page and enter your journey details.

Quote
How do I use a Flexi Season ticket?

At the start of your journey, just place your Touch smartcard on a smartcard reader. This will load any new purchases and activate one of your day passes and allow you to travel. Our onboard team can check your ticket by scanning your smartcard.

It is important that you touch in at the start of your journey and out at the end where facilities exist, to validate your journey. You can also activate your Flexi Season day pass using the National Rail Smartcard app (more info available soon).

Flexi Season tickets can be used on any services that run on your route, even if they aren’t GWR trains, unless otherwise specified. If your Flexi Season ticket is valid for a specific operator only, this will be stated at time of purchase.

Make sure you keep your payment cards and smartcards separate when touching in or out to avoid touching more than one card on a reader at the same time.

To see the full FAQs for the new Flexi Season ticket, please click here. (links to https://www.gwr.com/help-and-support/faqs/ticket-types )

And from terms and conditions ...

Quote
1. Using your Season Ticket and requirement to activate your Flexi Season Ticket

1.1. You can use your Season Ticket up to, and including, 04:29 in the morning following its expiry date for any number of journeys between the stations and/or within the zone(s) shown on it at any time of day. It may be used at intermediate stations, as long as the Ticket you hold is valid for the route you wish to use. Details are available where these tickets are sold.
1.2. With First Class Season Tickets you may travel in the First Class or Standard Class areas of the train.
1.3. Standard Class Season Ticket holders may upgrade their Season Ticket to First Class at the ticket office before they board the train (or on the train if there is no open ticket office where you board the train).
1.4. Travelcard Season Tickets allow unlimited travel at any time of day on National Rail, London Underground, DLR (Docklands Light Railway) and London Trams within the London Fare Zones Area which you have purchased. Travelcard Season Tickets are also valid on most London Bus services throughout the London Bus network. For journeys starting outside the London Fare Zones Area, the Travelcard Season Ticket allows travel by train between the starting station and the London Fares Zones Area boundary, and then unlimited travel within the zones paid for.
1.5. You cannot transfer your Season Ticket to another person.

Additional conditions specific to Flexi Season Tickets

1.6. Flexi Season tickets are valid for a 28-Day period and entitle you to 8 days of travelling between the stations specified, within that 28-Day period.
1.7. You must activate a day’s worth of travel in your Flexi Season before you board a train service. If you board a train without activating a day’s worth of travel, you will be treated as not having a valid ticket, unless
1.7.1. you are specifically permitted to board a train service with an un-activated Flexi Season by an authorised member of staff or notice of the Train Company whose service you intend to board.

1.8. Once activated, your Flexi Season is valid for any number of journeys between the origin and destination stations, including intermediate stations, as long as the Flexi Season you hold is valid for the route you wish to use. It remains valid until 04:29 the day after it is activated.
1.9. Once activated, you cannot deactivate or refund a day’s travel if you decide not to travel.

and later

Quote
4. Refunds

4.1. If you no longer need your Season Ticket, you can apply for a refund from the retailer you bought it from. You will need to return the Season Ticket to the retailer, except where the retailer can remotely cancel the Season Ticket.
4.2. Any refund is calculated from the date the Season Ticket is returned to the retailer or the date the retailer has cancelled the Season Ticket for further use, and will be the difference between the price you paid and the cost of a ticket or tickets for the period for which you have actually used the ticket up to the date the Season Ticket has been returned or disabled (for Flexi Season Ticket refund calculation – see 4.5).
4.3. There will be an administration charge of no more than £10.00.

Additional conditions specific to Flexi Season Tickets

4.4. You must apply for a refund before the end of the 28-Day validity period.
4.5. A refund is calculated as the difference between the price you paid for the Flexi Season and the cost of the appropriate ticket(s) to travel at peak time, covering one return journey between the origin and destination of the Flexi Season, for each day’s travel you have activated. Where the price is higher between the destination and origin of the Flexi Season for the appropriate ticket(s) to travel at peak time, covering one return journey, this higher price will be used in the refund calculation.
4.6. The refund calculation will be based on the price of the appropriate peak time fare as it was on the start date of your Flexi Season.

Quote
5. Refund Eligibility

5.1. There must be at least seven days remaining on a monthly or longer Season Ticket, or at least three days remaining on a 7-Day Season Ticket to obtain a refund (although on some 7-Day Season Tickets there may be no refund value after three days of use, dependent upon the relevant Anytime Day Return price). Flexi Seasons can only be refunded within their 28-Day validity period, regardless of number of unused days held.
5.2. Refunds are permitted on Duplicate Season Tickets. In these instances, an interview with the original retailer of the Season Ticket/Duplicate Season Ticket may be necessary. Please ask your retailer for more details.
5.3. In cases of illness, the refund can be backdated if you can produce evidence (such as a medical certificate) for a period before you request a refund, provided that you have not started travelling again using your Season Ticket since your illness.

Additional Conditions specific to Flexi Season

5.4. If you can provide evidence (such as a medical certificate) that you were not able to apply for a refund before the end of the 28-Day validity period because of illness, your retailer will still consider your refund application.

Quote
6. Discounts

6.1. Railcard discounts are not available, except for 16-17 Saver and Jobcentre Plus Travel Discount Card. Child discount is available on Season Tickets.

Additional conditions specific to Flexi Season

6.2. There are no Child or Railcard discounts available on Flexi Season, except for 16-17 Saver and Jobcentre Plus Travel Discount Card.

Quote
10. Season Tickets left at home

10.1. If you hold a valid Season Ticket but were unable to present it when requested because you had forgotten to carry it on that particular journey or mislaid it, the retailer of your Season Ticket, may at their discretion, refund any fare or Penalty Fare paid, less an administration charge not exceeding £10. In order to claim such a refund, you will need to provide the retailer from whom you bought your Season Ticket with your Season Ticket (and photocard if applicable), together with the additional Tickets you have purchased or any Penalty Fares notices.
10.2. A maximum of two refund claims on tickets purchased when a Season Ticket cannot be presented will be considered in any 12-month period regardless of the number of Season Tickets bought during that time.

Additional conditions specific to Flexi Season

10.3. We will not make any refund on additional tickets purchased when you forgot to carry your Flexi Season ticket.
« Last Edit: June 21, 2021, 09:37:22 am by grahame » Logged

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Richard Fairhurst
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« Reply #2 on: June 21, 2021, 09:56:18 am »

Rather underwhelming.

From Charlbury to Paddington, your options are:

  • "Flexible Season" £509.60 = £63.70 per day
  • Monthly season £698.90 = £36.80 per day (assuming 19 working days - in reality, people often buy monthlies/weeklies to fit in with holidays, making the daily cost lower)
  • Standard Open Return £72.80
  • Two Standard Open Singles, using a Network Card for the way home: £60.40
So there are no circumstances in which a Flexible Season offers the best value.
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grahame
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« Reply #3 on: June 21, 2021, 10:07:22 am »

Further feedback - via the BBC» (British Broadcasting Corporation - home page)

Quote
However, Tony Miles, rail expert and contributor to Modern Railways magazine, said people needed to be cautious because the new system offers a finite number of journeys whereas a season ticket allows people to use the train as much as they want.

"These really aren't season tickets," he told the BBC's Today programme. "This is a bulk purchase of tickets.

"A season ticket effectively gives you unlimited travel," he said. "The big difference with this is you're buying a fixed number of journeys at a discount price but if you decide at a weekend to do some extra journeys that will start ticking off your credit."

Not sure I agree that - as I read it, you can make unlimited journeys but only on your eight days.

Quote
Mr Miles said commuters needed to do some "real heavy thinking" about whether the new system would offer them value for money.

"If you are definitely going to travel two days a week to work and no more, then these probably will be a good thing for you," he said.

"If you think you are going to travel three days a week, you'd be very careful, and if you think your work will summon you randomly to pop in for extra days during the month, you need to be really careful because you will be using up that credit."

Agreed - and they probably do not work for people doing part time night shifts, as they do not offer 8 lots of 24 hour travel, but time out at 04:29. 



From the same article

Quote
Anthony Smith, chief executive of the independent watchdog Transport Focus, said the changes would help persuade people to choose rail travel again.

"Our research with passengers showed us there was strong demand for a new ticket that suited people who expected to commute less frequently in future," said Mr Smith.

"This is a positive step towards much-needed longer-term reform of how rail tickets are sold. We also welcome the waiving of admin fees for changing tickets, which will help rebuild passenger confidence."

However, Transport Focus said it was important that passengers used the calculator to check the costs, as the new flexible tickets would not be the best option for everyone.

... as a possible returning commuter I need some help! I use this as an illustration that the new ticket apparently just seems to make things yet more complex!

Totally agree - the irony of GBR (Great British Railways) going to help simplify ticketing and we end up with Passenger Focus advising caution and suggesting people do all the more checking ahead, and a whole raft of additions to terms and conditions.

Quote
What I can’t work out is if you ‘exhaust’ the FlexiTicket eg actually end up doing 9x days whether you can top up the days as needed or simply reset and rebuy a new ticket. As a former annual ticket holder it was a ‘perk’ to have the free weekend travel - now that weekend trip becomes very expensive!

I THINK you either buy another 8 days, or individual tickets if need be.   The flexibility of standard season tickets, where for longer periods you can get just about any period you wish, seems absent.  For example, if you're teaching in a school 2 days a week (the visiting Greek teacher, perhaps?) and travelling by train, 2 days a week for a 10 week term, you'll need to buy 2 x 8 out of 28 and 4 x day returns. But then that could be a saving for you over the previous 20 day returns.

Agreed that weekend travel "perk" and Gold Card stuff seems lost.
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« Reply #4 on: June 21, 2021, 10:56:02 am »

Assuming I've got my sums right Twyford to London Paddington is £211.20 vs daily ticket costs of £241.60 for 8 days travel.

Against that an annual season is around £333 a month.

The main complication for me is the lack of London underground and bus travel as I do use the tube and buses. I suspect Oyster (Smartcard system used by passengers on Transport for London services) is flexible enough to allow you to still make savings.

I think if you're know that you're not going to have to travel to work on any extra days and buy an Oyster card there should be some savings especially with holidays and/or sick days.

It does feel like a bit of admin though and one of the reasons I always bought an annual with travel card was for trips around London, weekend travel and not having to think about buying tickets.

I occasionally work nights which looks like I lose out for those shifts.

As in the quotes from Grahame below is does just all feel a bit complicated. I'm also not a fan of e-tickets but that's personal preference.

Still its progress.
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« Reply #5 on: June 21, 2021, 04:12:56 pm »

Is anybody aware as to whether it is possible to split flexi-seasons at a station that the train does not call at?

This appears possible with season tickets, but unsure whether a flexi-season is also a season ticket within that meaning.

e.g. want to travel A to C. Flexi season cost per journey is £12
However A to B has a flexi season cost of £5 per journey and B to C has a cost of £5.50

Not all trains between A & C stop at B. Would be allowed to take a non-stop train, or would your train have to stop at B?

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« Reply #6 on: June 21, 2021, 04:15:11 pm »

As is almost to be expected, Berkshire Live has garbled the facts - and included a photo of the wrong type of train.
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grahame
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« Reply #7 on: June 21, 2021, 04:29:33 pm »

Is anybody aware as to whether it is possible to split flexi-seasons at a station that the train does not call at?

This appears possible with season tickets, but unsure whether a flexi-season is also a season ticket within that meaning.

e.g. want to travel A to C. Flexi season cost per journey is £12
However A to B has a flexi season cost of £5 per journey and B to C has a cost of £5.50

Not all trains between A & C stop at B. Would be allowed to take a non-stop train, or would your train have to stop at B?


Quote
14.2. If you are using a Season Ticket, daily Zonal Ticket, or another area based Ticket such as a concessionary pass, ranger or rover in conjunction with another Ticket and the last station at which one Ticket is valid and the first station that the other Ticket is valid are the same, then the train does not need to call at that station for your combination to be valid.

I would guess YES ... the Flexi Season has season in its name AND it's a daily zonal ticket, allowing as many journeys as you like in the day between the end stations and intermediate stations on permitted routes too.   

Only proviso being end station - if you had (say) an Oxford to London Flexiseason and a Didcot to Swindon flexiseason, you could not use it on a train that did not stop at Didcot.  However, fine with a London to Didcot and Didcot to Swindon - "the last station at which one Ticket is valid and the first station that the other Ticket is valid are the same".
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« Reply #8 on: June 21, 2021, 05:51:55 pm »

Official email from GW (Great Western)

Quote
We promised to keep you up to date on Flexi Seasons.  They go on sale today, for travel from next Monday, 28 June.
 
Announced by the Government as part of the Williams Shapps review, the Flexi Season ticket offers savings for commuters travelling during peak times on routes that currently have season ticket availability.
 
We have a dedicated page on our website here where customers can check prices, order smart cards and also read about how to use the new product. It is important when checking prices that customers select dates from the 28th June.
 
Traditional season tickets will remain the most cost-effective option for those travelling at peak times four days a week or more, but the Flexi season, which offers eight days travel in any 28, provides a minimum of 20% saving against a monthly season ticket for those travelling twice a week at peak times. 
 
As well as the Flexi Season, the DfT» (Department for Transport - about) have also announced that for the rest of this year (until 31 December 2021) train companies will also offer a “book with confidence” guarantee allowing customers to rebook journeys, or receive rail vouchers, without an administration fee (usually £10.00) should their plans change.
 
We have written to our season ticket holders, and have issued traditional and social media, to let people know about the changes as they start to plan for a return to work. 
 
Happy to help if you have any questions.
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« Reply #9 on: June 21, 2021, 07:03:22 pm »

These tickets are NOT for everyone ... not even all of those who felt they might be useful. From the BBC» (British Broadcasting Corporation - home page)

Quote
Flexible ticket 'will only save me £7 a year' on my commute

[name] commutes from Worthing to London, where he works in financial services. An annual season ticket from West Worthing to London Bridge costs him £5,168. The flexible season ticket is £397 for 28 days, or £5,161 annually - meaning he would save £7 annually.
"In principle, it was quite a neat solution, but the cost and the pricing is a bit of a joke," he says.
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« Reply #10 on: June 21, 2021, 10:23:21 pm »

Official email from GW (Great Western)

Quote
We promised to keep you up to date on Flexi Seasons.  They go on sale today, for travel from next Monday, 28 June.
 
Announced by the Government as part of the Williams Shapps review, the Flexi Season ticket offers savings for commuters travelling during peak times on routes that currently have season ticket availability.
 
We have a dedicated page on our website here where customers can check prices, order smart cards and also read about how to use the new product. It is important when checking prices that customers select dates from the 28th June.
 
Traditional season tickets will remain the most cost-effective option for those travelling at peak times four days a week or more, but the Flexi season, which offers eight days travel in any 28, provides a minimum of 20% saving against a monthly season ticket for those travelling twice a week at peak times. 
 
As well as the Flexi Season, the DfT» (Department for Transport - about) have also announced that for the rest of this year (until 31 December 2021) train companies will also offer a “book with confidence” guarantee allowing customers to rebook journeys, or receive rail vouchers, without an administration fee (usually £10.00) should their plans change.
 
We have written to our season ticket holders, and have issued traditional and social media, to let people know about the changes as they start to plan for a return to work. 
 
Happy to help if you have any questions.

Does my late 1970s Dennis the Menace Fan Club card qualify?
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« Reply #11 on: June 21, 2021, 10:32:58 pm »

Arrrgh, fat thumb syndrome...this was intended to be a reply TonyK's previous reply on a different thread.  I am clearly operating in numpty mode....again .
Capt Halfwit.
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« Reply #12 on: June 22, 2021, 08:23:51 am »

I have a feeling the hand of The Treasury has overruled what the Railway Industry wanted to do.

Politically the Government has met the spin of what it said it would do ............ flexible ticketing ..................... they did not say anything about it being cheaper
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« Reply #13 on: June 22, 2021, 10:21:36 am »

Code:
Acost SdaysP SdaysO Flex-x Flex-s A_day OP_day Week Flex Month Melksham to
1.15 4.48 5.17 1.05 1.06 24.10 20.90 108 182 417 Newport
1.13 4.52 5.10 1.04 1.06 16.80 14.90 76 127 292 Pilning
3.16 1.59 5.03 1.71 1.84 186.80 59.10 297 812 1015 London (Paddington)
1.99 3.30 6.55 1.32 1.15 39.70 20.00 131 277 503 Romsey
1.35 4.17 5.62 1.10 1.09 10.80 8.00 45 79 172 Swindon
1.20 2.81 3.37 n/a n/a 87.40 72.90 246 n/a 944 Plymouth
3.16 2.08 6.56 1.92 1.26 56.80 18.00 118 362 453 Oxford
3.01 1.71 5.13 1.92 1.53 58.00 19.30 99 304 379 Didcot
1.01 4.65 4.68 1.02 1.06 12.70 12.60 59 96 225 Bristol Temple Meads
1.29 4.32 5.58 1.08 1.07 19.00 14.70 82 142 315 Salisbury
1.49 3.75 5.57 1.17 1.14 37.90 25.50 142 266 545 Southampton Central


Trying to get my head around some of the figures - using Melksham as my base example since we have a wide variety of ticket and journey types from here.

Columns 6 to 10 are fares ... as follows (and taking Newport as my example)
Column 6 - Return fare for a day trip at any time, using obvious / shortest route - £24.10
Column 7 - Return fare for a day trip off peak, using obvious / shortest route - £20.90
Column 8 - Weekly season ticket - £108
Column 9 - 8 days out of 28 flexiseason - £182
Column 10 - Monthly season - £417

Columns 1 to 5 are various factors ... as follows (and taking Newport as my example)
Column 1 - how many times an off peak daily fare is an anytime fare?  - 1.15 (i.e. it costs 15% more to travel in the peak)
Column 2 - how many peak return journeys do I need to make for a 7 day season to be worthwhile - 4.48 return journeys
Column 3 - how many off peak return journeys do I need to make for a 7 day season to be worthwhile - 5.17 return journeys
Column 4 - how much more expensive per journey is it on 8 out of 28 than 5 journeys on a season? - 1.05 (i.e. 5% more expensive)
Column 5 - how much do I save if I use a flexiseason rather than buying tickets daily? - 1.06 (i.e. I save myself 6%)

Melksham to Oxford is an interesting example and comparison to Melksham to Bristol.
* The Oxford peak fare is three times the off peak fare, but the Bristol peak and off peak fares are virtually the same. 
* To Oxford, uses a weekly season for just 2 days and you're pretty much break even, but to Bristol you would have to use it five days to make a saving.   
* If your journeys are off peak to Oxford, it's not worthwhile buying even a weekly season unless you're travelling on all 7 days.  To Bristol, even if you travel off peak you will make a saving by buying a season if you're travelling just 5 days.
* To Oxford, you'll pay 92% more per day for 8 days out of 28 than you would for five days out of 7, but to Bristol you'll pay just 2% more per day for spreading out your travel. 
* To Oxford, you'll save 26% over 8 daily anytime returns if you buy and fully use at peak times a flexiseason, but do the same thing to Bristol and you'll save just 6%.
« Last Edit: June 22, 2021, 10:45:05 am by grahame » Logged

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« Reply #14 on: June 22, 2021, 01:59:28 pm »

These tickets were never going to be the answer to everything as they're being squeezed into what is sometimes quite a narrow gap between paying for each day separately and getting a far better deal when travelling every day.  I wouldn't ask that "only save me £7 a year" financial services commuter for money advice though; unless he never takes a holiday from work there are likely to be times when he can leave a gap between the 28-day blocks so he won't need to buy 13 over the course of a year.  Varying the commuting days at the start and end of the blocks could also allow gaps while still being in the office 2 days each week.
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