TfL goes all contactless payment

September 16th, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

oyster swipe TfL goes all contactless paymentThe London Underground service goes contactless today! We can only hope it causes complete mayhem all day, so the national news can tell the rest of the country about it all, like people in Merthyr give a hoot.

Anyway, you Londoners or People Visiting London, contactless payments come into force for the London’s underground, trains and trams from this morning and commuters will now be able to pay for their trips by smartphone or a contactless-enabled bankcard.

It’s already proven a hit* (*baffled and upset tourists) on the buses, and so now the entire TfL network has followed suit.

Contactless payments are still the same prices as Oyster Cards, however TfL promise they’ll calculate a user’s costs so they don’t pay over the odds.

Each use of a contactless payment will be registered on a user’s bank statement, while journey details will be stored on their TfL account, if they register. There’s been a pilot scheme already, with 3,000 Londoners taking part. Apparently around 65,000 journeys have been taken. Not each, that would be mad.

Shashi Verma, TfL’s director of customer experience, said “Offering the option of contactless payments will make it easier and more convenient for customers to pay for their travel, freeing them of the need to top up Oyster credit and helping them get on board without delay.”

TfL have also been banging on about CARD CLASH so that commuters don’t end up paying twice when two cards are read from the same handy wallet. They’ve even been handing out nice little reminder wallets.

So anyway. Be alert. No one needs CARD CLASH. It’s not a look.

Planes: More seats – less legroom

September 12th, 2014 2 Comments By Ian Wade

fat man on airplane 300x255 Planes: More seats   less legroomWhile Ryanair have been shopping and snapping up a load of Boeing planes, it has announced that it will be able to accommodate 197 seats up from the original 189.

The airline’s purchase of the Boeing 737 MAX 200s, will be able to carry more passengers due to slimmer seats and less galley space than the current 737-800s.

Obviously, Michael O’Leary, Ryanair’s CEO, reckons the extra seats would generate around €1million of additional revenue per plane per year. Oh as a bonus, he hopes it will start an old fashioned price war… “which, like all the old price wars, Ryanair will win,” the charmer bellowed.

Ryanair do say that the legroom will in fact be increased due to the seats and smaller galleys. The customers – although not fully disclosed – would have 30 inches of leg room.

However  Airbus said the MAX 200 configuration would mean the removal of three of eight galley trolleys, which would leave just five trolleys for almost 200 passengers.

This is the latest in the ongoing quest to get more passengers on to planes other than just laying them on top of each other, or sitting on laps.

The number of economy seats in Boeing 777s has gone from 15% of its 74 777s taking ten abreast (up from the original nine) in 2010, to 69% in 2012.

Even Airbus have offered up designs which show an 11-abreast seating arrangement on its A380 superjumbo efforts, which would gain 35-40 more seats.

The nutjobs also tried to offer up a design featuring just saddles, but that might have been the result of someone doing some smoking.

Air-rage is increasing as a result of the battery hen scenes on the long-haul flights, with at least three planes having to be diverted in the last month.

Shall we look at a chart showcasing who has the most legroom on their economy flights? Go on, it’ll be fun!

                                  Legroom (pitch)                Seat width

Monarch                 28 ins*                                   17 ins
Thomson                28                                            16.5-17.2
Thomas Cook       28-33                                      16.2-18.5
EasyJet                   29                                            17.5
Ryanair                  30                                            17
Aer Lingus            31-32                                       17
British Airways   31-34                                      17-18
(*with an “extra legroom” option of 32 ins for a fee)

Ryanair doing a bit better than last year

September 11th, 2014 1 Comment By Ian Wade

Ryanair New Plane Logo 214x300 Ryanair doing a bit better than last yearRyanair reckon they’re flying six more customers per flight this year than in 2013. SIX WHOLE CUSTOMERS!

This small but obviously a good thing, is said to be down to the company’s improved customer service and ticket selling.

The airline expects load factors to increase 3-4 percentage points to ‘close to 86% of available seats this year.

So basically, translated into humans, an increase of 3-4 points on the Boeing 737s, with space for 189 people on them, would represent between 6-7 more passengers.

This news comes just after the Irish airline took delivery of the first part of 380 Boeing jets over the next ten years. That’s a big letter box that fits 380 planes through it.

This addition to the fleet should take the airline’s passengers from 82 million to 150 million a year.

Forward bookings also increased between September and January, when the airline started to sell tickets up to a year in advance instead of the previous nine months barrier.

To top that off, they’re looking to buy Cyprus Air and have completed all the paperwork required to start its first routes to Russia, with proposed flights from Dublin to Moscow and St. Petersburg.

Car sales are on the up!

September 8th, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

car scrap Car sales are on the up!People are still buying cars, even more so, for the 30th month running!

The number of cars sold so far to August 2014 in the UK is now over 1.5 million. Probably because people can’t afford to catch trains and if you’re going to get rinsed for cash, you may as well do it in the  comfort of your own company.

August also saw car sales jump up 9.4%, which is unusual for a traditionally quiet month, seeing 72,163 cars being registered, according to figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

Also, it’s unusual as its September, when it all gets busy as cars sell when there’s the new number plate season and buyers want to look really ahead and attractive.

2014 sales are also 10.1% above the same period last year. The UK are ahead of the rest of Europe as far as growth in car sales are concerned.

It can’t last, apparently, as the SMMT reckon it will cool off in the next few months.

traintrack 300x225 Rail fares are still going up   the North gets hammeredRail fares are going up by 2.5% in January and waxy old George Osborne has capped the ticket prices for the second year running, so it’s slightly better news than the feared 3.5% – 5.5% increases.

He also announced that he was scrapping the ‘flex’ system where train companies could cheekily raise some fares by up to 2% above the permitted average.

It will cost the Government £100 million though, so they’ll claw that back from you elsewhere no doubt.

As if pre-programmed, Mr Osborne trotted out his: “Support for hard-working taxpayers is at the heart of our long-term economic plan.”

“It’s only because we’ve taken difficult decisions on the public finances that we can afford to help families further.”

However, rail passengers in the north of England are not going to be feeling very supported for their hard work and tax payments, as new rules mean that passengers in Greater Manchester and parts of Yorkshire won’t be able to buy off-peak return tickets for travel between 4pm and 6.30pm. That basically means that, because they’ll be buying ‘peak’ or ‘anytime’ tickets, it’ll cost them 40-50% more than off-peak fares.

So, if you’re catching a train from Rochdale to Wigan, it’ll now cost you £11 when it would’ve cost you £4.20.

Martin Abrams of the Campaign for Better Transport isn’t happy: “The DfT’s extension of peak fares on Northern is part of an incoherent strategy to make existing passengers pay more for outdated services instead of investing in better quality rail for the future across the region.”

GM to install eye-tracking technology

September 3rd, 2014 1 Comment By Ian Wade

 GM to install eye tracking technologyTechnology is all over cars at the moment, as the latest device involves tracking your eyeballs.

This tech will watch you so it can determine how drivers are behaving on the road, tracking your eyes and every move, making sure that you’re giving the road its full attention.

General Motors will install around half a million cars with eye-tracking devices over the next three to five years.

They’re apparently using technology made by Seeing Machines, a Canberra-based company who specialises in driver fatigue technology.

The cameras will be backed by algorithms, which tracks movement in the driver’s face and will then use this data to analyse what the driver is looking at.

If the driver isn’t paying attention to the road for more than 30 seconds, the device emits a laser at them and kills them dead.

As well as safety, the technology could allow drivers to communicate with their cars, without having to press a button or turn the wheel. It’s all a bit Gary Numan.

There are privacy issues arising from this new development, such as what insurers and manufacturers may do with it. However Seeing Machines reckon that ‘initially’ it will not keep the info it records.

In other words, it will and we’re all going to Hell. And the car will probably lock us in and drive us there itself.

Volvo tinker with their logo

September 1st, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

Volvo have had a fiddle with their logo.

The new updated ‘ironmark’ logo, which has been in use since 1927, is based on the chemical symbol for iron, has been lightly updated by Stockholm Design Lab.

VolvoNew Volvo tinker with their logo

It handily coincides with the launch of its new XC90 vehicle.

Stockholm Design Lab said: “The symbol has been simplified in its purest form and conveys the vision to be the world’s most progressive and desirable premium car brand.”

Which, obviously, they would. They charged an amazing amount of money for the privilege too.

Whereas Volvo chip in with: “The new XC90 will be the first of our cars to carry the company’s new more prominent iron mark, which has the iconic arrow elegantly aligned with the diagonal slash across the grille.”

“Together with the T-shaped ‘Thor’s Hammer’ DRL lights, the iron mark introduces an entirely new, distinctive and confident face for Volvo’s forthcoming generation of cars.”

Still nothing you’d steal off the front though, eh elderly Beastie Boys fans?

Ryanair mean business

August 28th, 2014 5 Comments By Ian Wade

Picture 1 Ryanair mean businessRyanair. You know them, the rascals. Well they’re launching a business service.

Stop laughing.

In a bid to try and elevate their image and come across as a bit nicer, they’ve launched the business service in a bid to please the customer’s need for better treatment.

Their “business plus” fares offer customers flexible tickets, more check-in baggage, priority boarding and “premium” seats – in the first five rows for quick boarding, or on exit rows with extra leg-room.

They reckon that business passengers already make up more than a quarter of its customers and that the new fares, starting at £59.99, were designed to get more of them. The rest of you can whistle while you get herded up.

Ryanair have admitted that they’ve been a bit slack, and generally annoying humanity in general and have since been getting their act together.

They’ve introduced allocated seating, relaxed cabin bag restrictions, reduced charges, and loosened booking conditions.

Chief marketing officer, Kenny Jacobs, says that the new tickets would not see larger seats or extra facilities, bar perhaps USB chargers on new planes: ”We won’t be introducing a blue curtain. Customers haven’t asked us for the high business fares and facilities, they just want a bit of flexibility and a better schedule. The schedule is very oriented around business travellers: places like Madrid, Milan and Barcelona have three times daily returns, so they can travel there that morning and come back the same day.”

The company has announced that it will be going to more city-centre airports too, including new routes from Stansted to Cologne, Edinburgh and Glasgow.

[insert joke about new routes from places NEAR Cologne, Glasgow etc]

Buses: they’ve let us all down

August 27th, 2014 7 Comments By Ian Wade

47861821 nbfl no 08 broadgate 140510 300x167 Buses: theyve let us all downAccording to a think tank, it isn’t a great life on the buses as passengers have been continually let down by a lack of competition and a failure of deregulation.

Despite being privatised back in 1986, buses outside of London were deregulated, but those inside of the London remained subject to regulation. According to the IPPR (Institute for Public Policy Research) report, it claimed that Transport for London’s regulation had been a success, elsewhere the whole thing had been a bit of a failure.

One in eight of working Brits relied on getting the bus into work, and also that people made three times the trips on the bus than the train, which worked out over five billion a year.

It also pointed out that the poorest used the bus more, but that fares outside of London had risen by more than 35% above inflation between 1995 and 2013.

The report also recommended the creation of local transport bodies modelled on TfL .

IPPR associate director Will Straw said: “London has the best buses in Britain and that’s no accident. TfL has been a great success while the deregulation of buses outside London has largely failed.”

“Outside London, bus passenger journeys are down and fares are rising higher than inflation. Examples of successful bus markets outside London are all too rare so local transport bodies should be given greater powers to hold uncompetitive providers to account.”

“As well as regulating bus services, routes and fares, these new bodies should have a wider role of encouraging better integration between buses and other modes of transport including rail.”

“This will help increase the number of passengers using public transport. Responsibility for transport related to schools and hospitals should be devolved to these regional transport bodies with any savings made from achieving efficiencies retained and reinvested in other local sustainable transport projects.”

He goes on a bit, but you get the gist.

We all know catching the bus is a nightmare (as night follows day), but what can be done to fix the situation? And no, dear readers, killing annoying or smelly people isn’t a viable solution.

Do YOU know about the tax disc changes?

August 26th, 2014 8 Comments By Ian Wade

Windscreen decoration news now, and did YOU know that tax discs are set to be abolished on October 1? We spoke about it all the way back in 2012, but according to a survey on money.co.uk, only half of drivers questioned were aware of the changes.

You will still have to pay your vehicle tax, but now police cameras will be automatically check number plates and robots will establish if the tax has been paid.

The tax disc has spent 93 years on vehicle’s windscreens – well, in six or 12 months bursts anyway. Not the same one handed down.

Motorists will need to be aware of impending tax disc changes or face a £1,000 fine as well as potential penalty charges against a car they no longer own.

“Helpfully”, the DVLA has yet to start adding warnings to tax renewal reminders, but THEY’VE MADE A FILM!

Dear God.

The new rules will demand used car sellers to inform the DVLA of the change of ownership. HPI provider, hpicheck.com, has warned those caught unaware could face fines and charges.

Meanwhile for used car buyers, the vehicle tax will no longer be transferred while those selling can claw back unused tax.

So yes, get aware.

Bank Holiday rail nightmare with East Coast

August 26th, 2014 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

Just as train fares were announced that they were going up, a Bank Holiday travel tale of woe occurs to remind us how infuriating our train services can be.

Yesterday,  a train was delayed by a whopping 5 hours. That’s not ‘delayed while everyone was at the station so they could go and have a brew or whatever’, but rather, ‘passengers sat on the train for 10 hours with the driver buggering off somewhere, the passengers left with no water, a lack of air in the carriage and people fainting all over the place and left stranded with nowhere to go’.

Not good. Of course, customers tried to get things sorted on Twitter because East Coast weren’t feeling too responsive (initially).

2014 08 25 23.29.30 376x500 Bank Holiday rail nightmare with East Coast

East Coast, of course, seemingly did so little that, instead of identifying and correcting a problem, they just allowed more passengers to get on the Bank Holiday Doom Train.

2014 08 25 23.30.47 432x500 Bank Holiday rail nightmare with East Coast

After a while, someone jumped on East Coast’s Twitter account and started saying sorry to everyone, but of course, the passengers had all gone a bit mental by this point and had more pressing concerns – like what where they supposed to do if they’d missed their connecting trains and were stranded.

2014 08 25 23.31.41 367x500 Bank Holiday rail nightmare with East Coast

The only person to come out of the whole thing with any praise is Gary The Train Guard who got his own #garythetrainguard hashtag last night. A man who single-handedly tried to stop the passengers from going Lord of the Flies on each other.

Someone give Gary a raise!

gary the train guard Bank Holiday rail nightmare with East Coast

And the problem that held up these passengers is still here this morning. If you’re travelling into London’s King Cross through Peterborough and Stevenage, be warned that there’s an extensive disruption to services on the East Coast main line.

Today, there’ll be severe delays and cancellations .

An East Coast spokesman said: “Network Rail engineers have been working through the night to restore the overhead power lines… as a consequence, East Coast trains are expected to be severely restricted, and cancellations are likely throughout the day.”

“Customers are advised to defer travel until later in the day, or alternatively, to travel tomorrow if possible. Tickets dated for travel on Monday or Tuesday will be valid for travel on Wednesday and customers are advised to try to travel as close as possible to their original booked time.”

“East Coast is very sorry for the inevitable disruption this will cause to your travel plans, and is working hard with its infrastructure provider Network Rail to resume a good service.”

Customers delayed by more than 30 minutes are eligible for compensation under East Coast’s delay repay scheme. Click here and get your money back.

Panic on the streets of Derby

August 22nd, 2014 2 Comments By Ian Wade

Jet2.com logo 300x110 Panic on the streets of DerbyMass fighting scenes in Derby, as a promotional stunt by an airline went horribly wrong.

A load of young women (why they had to women, but hey – patriachy) ran down the street dressed in red morph suits, brandishing Jet2 tickets.

The stunt was to celebrate five years of flying from East Midlands Airport.

Whereas the same stunt had gone relatively smoothly in Nottingham and Leicester, Derby saw reports of people tackling some of the promotional morphs to the ground, and general mayhem.

Comments on the Jet2.com Facebook page suggested the event turned a bit mob-like.

Jet2 said in a statement: ”We had three events across the East Midlands yesterday and while Leicester and Nottingham went smoothly, the giveaway in Derby generated a little more excitement than anticipated.”

“Whilst one or two of our team were a bit shaken, we took care to make sure everyone was OK.”

‘A little more excitement’ indeed.

Here’s some people on Facebook talking about what happened, with one person saying that the whole thing turned into a bit of a “Fight Club”. Helps pass the time doesn’t it?

77072666 tpjet2 Panic on the streets of Derby

Sat navs send homeowner round the bend

August 20th, 2014 4 Comments By Ian Wade

TomTom 281x300 Sat navs send homeowner round the bendA lady in Somerset has pleaded with drivers to ditch their sat navs.

This isn’t as some kind of ‘be free of technology! Throw off your mental chains!’ type nonsense, she’s just a bit pissed off with lorries driving into her cottage.

Caroline Cockman, reckons lorries have caused £50,000 of damage to her home in Coxley, Somerset, due to believing everything that the sat nav tells them.

Cockman has lost count of the amount of vehicles that have got stuck up her lane.

It’s an ongoing hassle for the poor woman, claiming that just this week, there’s been three large vehicles trapped in her narrow strip of road.

“Their sat navs direct them down the lane and they ignore the evidence of their own eyes that it’s too narrow and just carry on until they get stuck.”

“The worst incident happened a couple of years ago when a big lorry blew out my back wall – it cost £33,000 in repairs. There have been many other incidents – I can’t remember them all. It must be well over £50,000 of damage in total.”

Understandably Cockman is now pleading with council officials to make signs at the top of the lane more obvious.

“The trouble is some drivers still use domestic sat navs instead of commercial ones. I’m told the commercial ones do carry warnings about the lane’s width but the domestic ones don’t.”

“Last Monday we had a big sewage tanker, with an escort to make sure it travelled safely, and it took him half-an-hour to reverse out. Then on Wednesday night someone collided with our low wall which stops vehicles coming off the lane and into our courtyard.”

“Another guy was trapped for six hours. If only truck drivers used their common sense as the lane got narrower and narrower.”

Perhaps we do need those new robot lorries after all?

Petrol prices down for the bank holiday

August 19th, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

asda petrol Petrol prices down for the bank holidayIt’s the last bank holiday before Christmas, so to celebrate, supermarkets have cut petrol prices by up to 2p a litre and diesel by 1p!

Asda kicked it off when they bugled that they’d be cutting their prices today (Tuesday), capping petrol at 124.7p a litre and diesel at 128.7p, which is the lowest the chain have had since January 2011.

Then Sainsburys and Tesco both chipped in by saying they’d be reducing their prices on petrol and diesel too, although neither chain has a national price cap.

Supermarkets being supermarkets, they’ve always had the chance to offer cheaper deals for the driver, especially when tied up in points and rewards and brand loyalty type stuff.

However this move has been seen as a response to the otherwise slightly dearer independents, according to Paul Watters, AA’s head of public affairs

“We have seen competitive independent retailers east of London selling petrol as low as 125.9p a litre recently, which heralded a more general move by Asda,” he said. “With its national pricing policy, that lower pricing will be spread to drivers across the UK and will spur other retailers to follow.”

“However, depressed demand is also a major influence as families in the UK, Europe and the US continue to struggle with family finances. Although pump price movements have been relatively benign this year, the trauma of price spikes from 2011 into 2013 continues to haunt drivers.”

According to the AA, the average price across the UK yesterday was 129.71p a litre, and diesel was 133.74p.

The other supermarkets are set to follow, because that’s what they do.

Train fares to increase today: protests likely

August 19th, 2014 2 Comments By Mof Gimmers

traintrack 300x225 Train fares to increase today: protests likelyToday’s the day when we all find out how much train fares are going up by, not that train travel is a rip-off as it is. But as morning follows night, train companies put prices up year on year when the RPI inflation figure is announced.

The formula used allows prices to be increased by an average of RPI plus 1%, but train companies have the option to add another 2% to some fares, just as long as the overall average remains in line with the formula.

Next year’s price rise could well take the overall increase to around 24.7% during this Parliament, according to the Campaign for Better Transport (CBT) and protests are expected at stations across the UK.

In addition to that, Shadow transport secretary Mary Creagh reckons there’ll be a further rise of 24% by 2018 if the Tories stay in power. She’s obviously forgotten about the Lib Dems being in the coalition as well, but that’s British politics for you.

The CBT are right to point out that, in the same period train fares have risen by upwards of 24% since 2010, wages had only risen 6.9%. Everyone knows that the UK has some of the highest train fares in the world and as a result, customers don’t think train companies are at all trustworthy.

Rail Minister Claire Perry did acknowledge that “we have had inflation-busting fare rises almost every year over the last decade” but insisted the Government is committed to “fair fares”.

She said: “What we have got to do is make sure rail passengers, who could be forgiven for thinking ‘What on earth am I getting for these rises I’ve seen over the last decade?’, start to realise that they are paying fair fares for comfortable commuting.”

“Passengers are paying for the “biggest investment in the rail network since Victorian times”, she added while yammering on Radio 4.