Thursday 27 November 2014

This Is Not A Blog Post

I was going to write a blog post about the newest manifestation of Saveaways.  They've gone all hi-tech, you see. Smart Saveaways first became available on the 24th November, bringing ticketing on Merseyside into the 21st Century.

This isn't a proper Walrus card, I hasten to add.  It might have Walrus written on it but that doesn't mean a thing.  That scheme - to introduce a Merseyside version of the Oyster card - was announced to great fanfare in 2011.  Season ticket holders would be using it by the end of 2012, with pay as you go in 2013.  It's nearly 2015 and it hasn't happened so don't mention it.  Just pretend no-one said anything.  Ignore that Greater Manchester and South Yorkshire and Tyne & Wear are all rolling out their own smart cards.

I was going to write about how the new Saveaways are not able to be pre-loaded with cash, like a pay as you go Oyster.  I was going to write how, if you have a Smart Saveaway, you have to take your card to a shop and ask them to put a day's travel on it.  I was going to point out that I could do that right now, if I wanted to buy a paper one, and so the fact that it's got a magnetic strip means nothing to me.

I could have written about how you can't buy a Smart Saveaway over the internet, or how you can't top it up online, or using a ticket machine in a bus or rail station.  About how you can't buy one in advance, like you can with a scratch-off Saveaway, so that you can have a spontaneous day out if the mood takes you.  About how my nearest Pay Point is actually in the opposite direction to my nearest bus stop.  About how there will be a £1 charge for registering it after the 1st of April.

There's probably a lengthy and detailed blog post to be written about how Merseyrail will not be issuing or crediting Smart Saveaways, and will instead stick to the paper version.  I could probably get quite a lot of humour about the fact that Merseyrail ticket inspectors will have no technology to check if your Smart Saveaway is actually valid, so, in the words of the website:

In other words, to make sure you don't get fined for not having a ticket, carry a piece of paper with your paperless ticket at all times.  Unless there's a station with ticket gates.  There's a whole eight of those on the Merseyrail network (assuming that the one in Chester accepts this smartcard, which isn't guaranteed as it's outside the County line).

And I could probably get a bit of wry fun out of the fact that when they opened the new Ferry Terminal two years ago, it came with smartcard readers, but they won't be used in 2014.  Instead you queue up, show your Smart Saveaway to a person at the ticket office, and they'll give you a boarding pass for the ferry.  Saving you absolutely no time at all.

In short, I probably could have written a lengthy, extremely angry blog post about the Smart Saveaway being inconvenient, pathetic, ridiculous, customer-alienating, a blight upon Merseytravel, and a major cause for red faces among everyone at Mann Island.  However, it's all just too bloody depressing, so I shan't bother.


Dan said...

So with this new Saveaway you have a smartcard, but still pretty much have to carry a stupid receipt around at all times too. Smart move there Merseytravel.

Neil said...

Reminds me of the old MK Metro scheme of years gone by. When Arriva took over, one of the first things they did is abolish it.

Unknown said...

I've got myself one and have been using it on my little trips to/from Allerton, I find it pretty cool but then again I've never used one of these fancy smartcards before. AFAIK it is accepted at Chester but when I got there yesterday I had mine rejected so I'm not sure what's going on with that just yet (I wasn't fined and the fella at the booking office said they should be accepting them so maybe it was just a fault with the barriers), let's hope they get it right when it's fully rolled out.

Gareth said...

The Walrus thing has been a farce from the beginning. It's surely been not short shy of a decade since the introduction of an Octopus-style card (yes, London wasn't the first, as much as they like to think it) was first muted. I wouldn't be surprised if we never see the Pay & Go version. Chances are, the pay by credit/debit card touch system that you see on buses will become the norm for one off journeys.

It's a shame because a proper P&G smart card, which took into account the relevant discounts would help everyone. There'd be no need for Saveaways or even monthly tickets. If you spend more than £3.60 in Area C within a 24 hour period, then the Area C Saveaway would automatically kick in. Cross the water and you'd only be charged an extra pound. For the rest of the day, public transport would be free in the entire Merseytravel area. You could even programme it to know how much you've spend within a month and have Solo/Trio passes kick in. I suppose they can't afford a competent programmer on 35k a year to implement it properly. We can dream though.

The Saveaway version, whilst ideally it should be redudant given the ideal scenario in the previous paragraph, would at least be some use to me if I could top it up online. I hate Saveaways for the one reason that you increasingly can't seem to buy the buggers anywhere. I live in Wavertree and there's no shortage of newsagents. The weird looks you get when you ask for a Saveaway, as if you've come from another planet; it's embarrassing. And then, when I do find a shop, usually a large meander from between where I live and the nearest bus stop, they don't sell the type I need. The last time, I wanted an All Area one but they only sold Area C. A couple of years back, it was the reverse scenario but I just bought the All Area anyway, as it still worked out cheaper for the journey I was making. Still, an extra £1 I didn't need to spend. And why can't we top it up online exactly? It's not like it's cutting edge technology. We've been topping up P&G sim cards for years. How hard can it be to implement?

Argh, I'm so pissed off now!

Anonymous said...

I have been to six different shops with pay point terminals, not one can top up a walrus card. The only place I can get it done is in bus depots.I have to pay the bus fare to get there. Genius mersey travel

Anonymous said...

Solo now added to Walrus!