On Friday, Dr B (who's in charge of such matters) picked up our tickets from York station for two fairly simple return journeys we had booked. Two people, two return journeys. Each trip involved one change of train at Peterborough. Pretty simple stuff.
Now that could be four documents, couldn't it? One ticket per person per return journey, with all the relevant information printed on each. But no. Apparently twenty-five makes more sense.
How utterly absurd is that? The information you need is unnecessarily duplicated and segregated, and some of it is completely useless – we could've done without the two seat reservation tickets that simply said "there are no seat reservations". The whole ticketing system needs a serious rejig, and not just for us travellers, but to make the actual trains and stations more efficient. Imagine how much quicker a ticket inspector could get down a train if every single passenger didn't have to shuffle a deck of cards before finding the right one?
It reminds me of Tyler Thompson's mission to redesign boarding passes to make them useful and readable. Somewhere along the way, ticket designers forgot about humans. No doubt the next step will be to stick a
designwart QR code on them just to make the world that little bit more hateful. With the profusion of rail providers, the old system is simply not fit for purpose any more.
One journey, one ticket. How hard is that?
An excellent approach to simplifying tickets by Neil Martin, who pragmatically suggest a design that will still work with the existing stockpile of blank tickets:
Another great approach by Robert Hempsall, again using the existing tickets. Robert has separated the information for the passenger (larger type) from the information for the ticket inspector (smaller type). You just can't beat a well thought-out hierarchy.
Apologies to Peter aka @urbaneprofessor, who posted this comment just as I was switching over to a different commenting system, and got lost between the cracks a little bit:
This is a REAL bug-bear of mine. ATOC got rid of the European style/Boarding pass tickets because of revenue protection - they've now installed ticket gates at so many stations that if they kept the old style tickets (a return journey for two people could be one ticket) then the railway companies would have to employ staff to open the gates for people with the big tickets. However, try using a credit card style ticket for an advanced purchase journey in a gate and it's pretty much guaranteed not to work. So, if you go to a station that's understaffed (Sundays, nights) they usually leave the gates open anyway. Changing the ticket type was just done to increase revenue (marginally) and inconvenience passengers.
Here's Wallace Henning's approach. It's quite a complex presentation of information, but to get it all onto one ticket is a heck of a challenge! Wallace raises the issue that, if we are to retain the existing blank tickets, then we should be thinking within the constraints of the existing thermal printers too. What is the bottom limit in terms of readable point-size for these? Does anyone know?