Bus fare rock­ets by £500 a year

The Oban Times - - News - EL­LIE FORBES eforbes@oban­times.co.uk

A ROY BRIDGE res­i­dent has seen his bus fare to Fort Wil­liam rocket by 82 per cent as he found him­self hav­ing to buy two tick­ets to get to a nd from work.

Steven Bond uses the bus ser­vice be­tween Roy Bridge and Fort Wil­liam every day to get to work but has found him­self £31.50 out of pocket each week fol­low­ing re­cent High­land Coun­cil con­tract changes.

On April 24, the coun­cil split the ser­vice into two con­tracts, one con­sist­ing of the ser­vice which op­er­ates via the high school and a second for other jour­neys.

Mr Bond said the coun­cil’s ex­pla­na­tion for this is it ‘en­ables a smaller bus to be used for non-school jour­neys to pro­vide the coun­cil with bet­ter value for money’.

How­ever, the coun­cil awarded the con­tract in­clud­ing school jour­neys to Shiel Buses while the other con­tract re­mains with Stage­coach, but nei­ther op­er­a­tor will ac­cept each other’s tick­ets, mean­ing his bus fare has surged by 82 per cent. Mr Bond told the Lochaber

Times: ‘I pre­vi­ously was able to pur­chase a seven-day ticket from Stage­coach cost­ing me £17.15, which had al­ready in­creased from £16.50 at the be­gin­ning of April, which en­abled to make un­lim­ited jour­neys lo­cally.

‘I now have to buy two single tick­ets to get to and from work cost­ing me £6.30 per day – £31.50 a week – plus ex­tra for any other jour­neys I need to make.’

Mr Bond says that, while he can un­der­stand the High­land Coun­cil’s ra­tio­nale for award­ing two con­tracts, he said he ‘can­not un­der­stand why they did not in­clude mutual ticket ac­cep­tance in the con­tracts when award­ing them.

‘It seems to me the coun­cil did not con­sider bus users when award­ing the con­tracts, as I can­not see any ben­e­fit to pas­sen­gers what­so­ever of the new timeta­bles.’

Mr Bond only found out his travel costs would in­crease by more than £500 a year when he went to get on the bus for work on April 24.

He said is he ‘dis­s­a­pointed at the lack of for­ward warn­ing of this sig­nif­i­cant in­crease in fares by ei­ther the coun­cil or the bus op­er­a­tors’.

A spokes­woman for Stage­coach North Scot­land said: ‘When High­land Coun­cil con­tracts changed on April 24, there was no re­quire­ment for op­er­a­tors to ac­cept other bus op­er­a­tors’ tick­ets.

‘We are ac­tively pur­su­ing this mat­ter with the High­land Coun­cil as there are not cur­rently any com­mer­cially pro­vided multi-op­er­a­tor bus tick­ets avail­able in Fort Wil­liam.’

She added: ‘We are pre­pared to dis­cuss the po­ten­tial for a com­mer­cially pro­vided multi-op­er­a­tor ticket to make travel for the lo­cal com­mu­nity eas­ier fol­low­ing the con­tract changes.

‘How­ever, we would re­quire com­mit­ment from Shiel Buses and any other in­ter­ested op­er­a­tors as well as an in­de­pen­dent body such as the High­land Coun- cil to fa­cil­i­tate these dis­cus­sions. Op­er­a­tors are not permitted to dis­cuss fares di­rectly with each other.

‘Un­lim­ited bus travel on Stage­coach ser­vices in Fort Wil­liam starts from just £1.41 per day.’

A High­land Coun­cil spokesper­son said: ‘In­tro­duc­ing a multi-op­er­a­tor ticket re­quires the agree­ment of op­er­a­tors and a rev­enue shar­ing ar­range­ment to be in place. In Lochaber this af­fects com­mer­cial bus ser­vices as well as those un­der con­tract to the coun­cil. We do in­tend to in­tro­duce a scheme but it will take some time to set up the ar­range­ments.’

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.