Bus operator slammed over fares increase
NEW Year’s price hikes for bus passengers have been criticised as unfair.
First Bus, which runs several routes through Middleton – the 188, 415, 163, X63, 58/59, 42, 18/19 and 17 - has changed its fares from January 2.
Rochdale council’s transport spokesman Coun Phil Burke condemned the changes which will also see passengers using the mobile ticketing app avoid price rises on certain routes.
First Bus said they continue to offer customers ‘the best value for money’ - when they buy in advance via the app.
Coun Burke said: “People already pay a lot of money to travel around the borough and into Manchester and as First Bus is the main provider, our residents don’t have much choice but to use them. Bus passengers can’t afford price rises, but it’s a particularly bitter pill to swallow when the service is so poor.
“I’ve received upwards of 70 complaints regarding First Bus services this year from residents all across our borough.”
First Bus has announced fare rises of between 10p and 30p for single tickets, plus rises for certain day, night and season tickets on their services.
Coun Burke also claimed moves to freeze price hikes on certain routes - but only for users of the app - were unfair on people who do not use smartphones.
He said: “A lot of people in our borough, particularly older bus users, won’t necessarily have access to apps, and it can’t be right that they are being penalised for this.”
First Bus managing director Ian Humphreys said: “These changes are essential to allow us to continue to operate the highest level of service possible for our customers. We have worked hard to keep any increases to a minimum and continue to offer customers the best value fares via our mTickets App.”
In a statement, First Bus added: “First Manchester is making changes to fares from Wednesday, January 2 but is continuing to offer customers the best value for money when they purchase tickets in advance of boarding the bus via its mobile ticketing app.
“Some fares have been frozen on the mTickets App, but most of the tickets purchased on-bus from the driver will change. The best value fares are being offered to mTicket customers, making it the cheapest way to get around, which includes the local fares on specific routes.
“First Manchester introduced new state-of-theart ticket machines in September 2018, which has enabled customers to pay for their bus tickets in new ways, including via contactless. mTicket use is growing at over 60 per cent year on year as people switch to more convenient options.
“Data also shows that boarding with an mTicket is twice as fast in comparison to purchasing a ticket from the driver, so the business is continuing to promote mTicket take up by offering the best value fares on its mTickets App.”
‘People already pay a lot of money to travel around the borough.’
First Bus say passengers who have the mTickets App on their phones will avoid price rises on certain routes.