So, how are the incompetent buffoons at Merseytravel getting on with their current "big project"? The short answer is: Not very well.
Walrus was launched in 2011, and we were supposed to be using it for pay as you go in 2013. There's no sign of that happening yet, but they have now launched smart Savaways. After a trial period in Wirral these are being rolled out across Merseyside this month, to replace the scratch-off Savaway tickets. I got one this morning.
- You can no longer buy a Savaway in advance, only on the day of travel, so if I'm starting my trip with a bus ride I have to walk past two bus stops to get to the newsagent to buy one.
- The railway doesn't do PayPoint so it's only cardboard tickets from the station, but of course they got rid of the scratch-off ones a few years ago, so still no chance to buy in advance.
- The railway doesn't do smart cards except at the handful of stations with ticket gates, so you need to carry a paper receipt to prove there's a Savaway on the card, which rather defeats the object, I think. Paperless ticketing eh?
- Given that we're one week into the rollout one might have expected a leaflet, but no, the poor lady in the Merseytravel office had to go through her explanatory spiel for each customer.
- In view of the inconvenient requirement to carry a paper chit along with the card, one would have thought that a little plastic wallet might be useful, but I wasn't offered one.
- What about other modern ways of buying a ticket? Internet - no. Ticket machine - no - not even Merseytravel's own ticket machines.
- I'm always a little worried that my cardboard Savaway might get "eaten" by the ticket barrier. I know the staff can retrieve it for me but that's little consolation when my mates are already getting on the train. At least the Walrus doesn't have to leave my hand.
By the way, soon (1st April I think.) there will be a £1 charge for the Walrus card itself, so I advise you to get a free one quickly. Actually, come to think of it, I might get a couple of spares while they're free, if I do any more Savaway trips.
Whinge over (for now) and I promise the next blog entry will be about electrification. Probably.