I've had a go at National Express in the Romford Recorder this week. The story, at www.romfordrecorder.co.uk concerns the lack of facilities for pre paid oyster card users at Romford station. This is an ongoing disgrace which discriminates against Romford residents by denying them access to cheaper oyster 'pay as you go' fares. There are two issues:
First, the main line rail companies refuse to accept oyster pre paid tickets - as opposed to oyster travelcards which are accepted - because they don't want to incur the costs of installing oyster readers at every station. This would require the introduction of ticket barriers at many places, Gidea Park and Harold Wood being good examples, and they are resisting the extra expense. They seem not to realise that the barriers will be a benefit in themselves, restricting access to the platform and improving safety in many places. Livingstone did his best to get a deal and Boris seems to be making progress with some operators, but their foot dragging has to stop.
Second, the ticket barriers at Romford cannot read oyster cards of any type including travelcards. This means that oyster holders have to queue on the stairs to exit the station via a tiny gap where the station staff check the tickets with hand held machines. The staff are great, and long suffering, but the same can't be said of the inspectors who are sometimes drafted in. New barriers have been promised for months but again no progress from National Express.
We all want to stop ticket evasion, but a lot of people who are fined genuinely believe that their oyster pre paid ticket is valid, and after all they have paid their fare so the injustice of a fine is pretty obvious. Better information for travellers at Liverpool Street and Stratford stations would be a good start.