Tell the public how much our tram tickets cost? Are you mad?
Transport for Greater Manchester says silly thing in reply to sensible FoI request
Updated Transport for Greater Manchester, the northern UK city's transport authority, has refused to publish its ticket prices on the basis that telling the public how much they have to pay for riding the trams would "prejudice the Metrolink service".
The transport regulator was responding to a Freedom of Information request for next year's tram ticket prices, which are due to come into force in January 2018.
Melissa Ivinson, a "senior paralegal" at TfGM, wrote in the letter refusing the request: "We believe release of this information would allow our competitors to have an unfair advantage and therefore prejudice the Metrolink service. Having considered the public interest, TfGM's decision is to withhold data relating to the Metrolink service in order to ensure we remain competitive relative to other transport operators."
Every other public transport operator in the UK publishes their fares. Railway and bus fares are freely available online and the other major British cities that have tram networks (London, Edinburgh and Nottingham) also publish their fares. Because, you know, this is how the world works.
Ivinson also claimed that there was no need to release the fares tables because "this information is or will be made available to the public by way of fare information available at Ticket Vending Machines". Apparently publishing the fare tables might allow "competitors in the public transport sector to analyse TfGM's fares schedule/strategy".
All is not lost, however. Anyone wanting to look up in advance how much their journey might cost can, er, inspect the Official Fares Tables "by appointment at TfGM's Trading Office between the hours of 0900-1700". The barmy refusal notice can be viewed on top Freedom of Information website WhatDoTheyKnow.
A page on the TfGM website goes into exhaustive detail about the multitude of ticket types on offer – but not once does it mention how much one might have to pay to get around the city.
El Reg is unable to confirm rumours that other important TfGM information is on display in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying "Beware of the Leopard".
A TfGM spokesperson said: "Metrolink is operated commercially and while we do make ticket information available online for customers to quickly and easily check single journey products and prices, we do not publish full fare tables. This is common practice among many transport operators.
"Transport for Greater Manchester is currently conducting a review of the Metrolink fares structure, which is set to be discussed by council leaders later this year. The publication of full fare tables will be considered as part of this review." ®