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Bradford bus company criticised over fares increase
The chairman of Metro has hit out at one of Bradford’s bus providers for increasing its fares at a time when most of its passengers are having to make every penny count.
On April 1 First West Yorkshire will raise the cost of an adult ticket on its buses by 10p per journey, although some children’s fares will be reduced.
The company blames the “below inflation” rise on the rising costs of running its fleet.
But the announcement comes the same day a survey revealed that half of the area’s bus users don’t think they get good value for money.
Councillor James Lewis, chairman of the West Yorkshire Integrated Transport Authority, said he was “disappointed” with First’s decision, and feels Government cutbacks also have a piece to play. Coun Lewis said: “At a time when most people are feeling financially squeezed and want to see better value for money from their bus fares it is naturally disappointing to hear this news that fares on First’s bus services across West Yorkshire are going to rise, although the reduction in children’s fares is to be welcomed.
“However, fare rises are also a consequence of the Coalition Government’s insistence on cutting funding to city and district councils, and reducing the fuel duty rebate for local bus services is another example of further financial burdens being placed on those least able to afford them.
“What Metro wants to see from the bus companies is how they intend introducing simplified and integrated ticketing which offers better value along with levels of services and reliability which reflect the fares they are charging.”
First has pointed out that the average increase was under three per cent and that some ticket costs would actually fall – the West Yorkshire child weekly ticket is being reduced to £7 from £8.
Dave Alexander, its regional managing director, said: “It is 15 months since our last price rise. We now need to review our fares to meet the ongoing challenge of rising costs to our business and have kept the rise below the rate of inflation.
“We appreciate nobody likes it when prices go up but we have worked hard to keep any increases to a minimum by introducing savings within our business to off-set cost increases.
“Our aim in 2013 is to continue to give value-for-money to our customers and look to build customer growth in partnership with the local authorities and which will be further helped by the potential of significant investment in new vehicles.”
Councillor Khadim Hussain, (Lab, Keighley Central), who represents Bradford Council on the transport authority, said bus companies should strive to bring in more money in by increasing passenger numbers.
He said: “I don’t agree with a fare rise when people are feeling the pinch of austerity. They should have given consideration to people’s financial circumstances and not just think about increasing their profit margin.”
Two other bus companies which operate in the Bradford district, Arriva and Transdev Buses, increased the prices of many of their tickets in January.