Bus op­er­a­tor slammed over fares in­crease

Rochdale Observer - - NOSTALGIA -

ATRANSPORT chief has slammed planned price hikes for First Bus pas­sen­gers in Jan­uary.

The com­pany - which runs sev­eral routes through the bor­ough - is chang­ing its fares from to­day (Wed­nes­day).

Rochdale coun­cil’s trans­port spokesman Coun Phil Burke, who rep­re­sents the bor­ough on the Trans­port for Greater Manch­ester com­mit­tee, con­demned the in­creases, which will hit pas­sen­gers’ pock­ets.

Coun Burke also slammed moves which will mean that peo­ple who have the First Bus mTick­ets App on their phones will avoid price rises on cer­tain routes, which those with­out the app will have to shoul­der.

He 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 across our bor­ough.

“I’ve lost count of the num­ber of times I’ve raised these is­sues with First Bus, but all I hear from them is ex­cuses. all

“What we don’t see is any ac­tion.”

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,” he said.

Coun Burke is plan­ning to raise the is­sue at the next meet­ing of the Trans­port for Greater Manch­ester com­mit­tee on Thurs­day, Jan­uary 10.

First Bus did not re­spond to re­quests for a com­ment.

On their web­site, they say: “If you switch to buy­ing your ticket through the First Bus mTick­ets app, you’ll get ac­cess to all our best value fares as these tick­ets con­tinue to be cheaper than buy­ing on bus. Choos­ing mTick­ets also helps make it eas­ier and quicker for you when board­ing.”

●»From left: Mark Cryer, Nigel Sudell, Matt Har­vey, Andy Knox, Brian Bald­win, Rick Meyrick and Peter Kelly took part in the spon­sored shave

●»Coun Phil Burke

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