Help sort out matchday travel

Sian Berry web credit Simon P BainesSian Berry, who works for the Campaign for Better Transport, is asking for your help to sort out matchday travel. Can lessons be learned from the Olympics when it comes to integrated travel plans and better public transport information?

The Campaign for Better Transport is turning its attention this season to football travel. Over 39 million fans took trips to league matches last season and each week more than 650,000 fans travel to Premier League matches – four times the number that landed on the Normandy beaches on D-Day in 1944. This regular mass mobilisation has a big impact on our transport system, and many areas suffer traffic and parking problems from the influx of spectators.

From the responses we’ve seen so far to our fan survey, getting to the game is getting harder and harder for many fans. With reduced public transport at weekends and evenings, leaving the car at home can add hours to a day trip to an away game, while parking isn’t a picnic either and in some places can cost nearly as much as the match ticket. Taking the train increasingly costs a fortune too – particularly since buying advance fare tickets puts fans at risk of losing out if a match is postponed or rescheduled for TV – and fans on public transport are often treated in ways that people wouldn’t put up with in any other situation.

There is, of course, no reason for travel to be so tricky. Transport for the Olympics was almost entirely based around public transport, walking and cycling, and aimed at avoiding traffic jams and parking problems around venues. Free travel cards, promotion of different ways to travel, clear public transport information and Park and Ride services meant targets of 0% car use for spectators in the Olympic venues' travel plans, and we’ll find out soon if they achieved this.

The motivation to improve things is there too. Clubs want and need full grounds and happy fans, and local authorities want to avoid a weekly congestion nightmare. Transport operators benefit from more custom, though they have a right to expect trains and buses to be well treated, and they shouldn’t be able to profiteer either.  

So, there’s certainly lots that can be done – from cheaper tickets to clearer information and better routes for walking and cycling. It would be too easy for a transport charity like us to take our existing knowledge and simply issue a set of recommendations, but we realise that football travel is different in many ways and may have unique issues that need unique solutions.

That’s why our project to sort out football travel is starting with a fan survey. First of all we want to listen to what fans have to say, find out what travel problems they experience and what they think about new services and ideas for making things better.

Please help our project by filling in a five minute survey about how you get to matches and how your journeys could be made easier by clubs, transport companies and local councils. You can fill in the survey at www.bettertransport.org.uk/football. It closes on 29th April and we’ll be publishing the results at the end of the season.

Picture credit - Simon P. Baines.

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