PROTESTERS were out in force at major train and bus stations across London today to campaign against huge New Year fare rises brought in by the government and London Mayor Boris Johnson.

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Under the slogan Fair Fares Now, the Campaign for Better Transport (CBT) plans to hold regular demonstrations against the fare rises and wants people to use Twitter to vent their anger at the above-inflation ticket price hikes.

While the average fare rises, at around 6%, are bad enough, many, such as Northampton to London, have risen by 7% and some season tickets have shot up by a full 11% – that’s 2% more than even the pessimists were predicting recently.

Worse still, the government and Johnson are determined to hit travellers on London’s public transport with above inflation fare rises for years to come, “to reduce what taxpayers contribute and increase the share paid for by passengers,” as the Association of Train Operating Companies puts it.

CBT points out that not only do fare rises hit people’s pockets, but that they can also damage the wider economy.

“When the cost of tickets is so much higher than other European capitals, the government’s fare rises are starting to affect the UK’s competitiveness,” said the CBT’s Sophie Allain.

Meanwhile, London Mayoral candidate Ken Livingstone has pledged to reverse the new fare rises, if he beats Johnson in May’s election.

“I will introduce an emergency fares package that will wipe out this January’s rise,” he said.

“I will freeze fares throughout 2013 and then ensure they rise overall by no more than inflation after that. [The election] will be a referendum on the Tories’ rising prices.”