I never learned to drive. Living in Brighton, a car is more of a liability than an advantage – we have excellent bus and train connections – and I’ve always been too ‘green’ to get behind the wheel. As such I’m a huge bus and train fan and have discovered all manner of ways to cut the cost of public transport over the years.
Times change and special offers come and go – here are my best tips for cheaper train and bus travel in 2013.
- Most bus companies let you buy weekly, monthly, quarterly or annual tickets, which can save an absolute mint if you’re a frequent traveller.
- Off-peak train travel is generally much cheaper than at peak commuter times.
- Some bus companies provide reduced student fares so if you’re at college or Uni, check out your local bus company and see what they can do for your threadbare, moth-filled pocket! The same goes for trains, with excellent deals for student rail travel, ditto train fares for older people.
- An increasing number of train operators offer multiple single tickets called carnets (I wonder why? A ‘carnet’ is usually an international passport for merchandise). They’re often available for peak and off-peak journeys on commuter routes and usually last for a quarter. You pay up front and can use the tickets on any journey so they’re not time-specific. Do your sums first to make sure you’ll use them all within the timeframe.
- If you travel on trains regularly with children in tow, your train operator might provide ‘GroupSave’ tickets, where four people can travel for the same price as two grown ups off-peak. Better still, if you have a flock of kids you can add them for just £1 each, which is a huge bargain.
- If your train is delayed you can claim a 20% refund if you’re delayed for more than an hour… it’s the law! Some operators pay as much as 50% for a half hour delay and refund 100% of your fare if it’s an hour or more late. You can find out exactly how much compensation they offer via their Passenger Charters. Claiming requires some form-filling but it’s well worth the time and effort.
Make your own packed lunch and take your own drinks on train journeys and you’ll save even more.