Fight for fairer bus fares in county is taken to Government

Stagecoach is the largest bus operator in Rugby
Stagecoach is the largest bus operator in Rugby

Councillors in Warwickshire have backed plans to take their fight for fairer bus fares to the Government.

The county council’s cabinet has agreed that the authority should write to the Secretary of State for transport, Patrick McLoughlin, to “express growing concern about the unaffordability of bus travel in Warwickshire”.

The Advertiser reported earlier this month that officials were suggesting the council should take action following fare rises that have been higher than the rate of inflation. Members of the authority’s cabinet agreed to the plan on November 14.

The letter states: “The almost continual increase of fares in real terms has become an urgent issue to bus users.

“The high cost of public transport discourages travel and is an adverse factor in matching people seeking employment with the positions.

“There is a serious concern that continuing to permit fares rises above the rate of inflation will erode the use of bus services, push families into poverty, damage the local economy and harm the environment.”

The letter will be sent on behalf of the whole council.

Various readers have contacted the Advertiser in recent weeks about the issue. Susan Thomas of Long Lawford said: “I get a lift to Coventry every morning but I use the 86 most weekdays to return home . I find the cost of a monthly bus pass very expensive at £88.50 a month, especially as I normally only make four journeys a week.”

Fellow reader Claire Lomax said: “£2 for a mile journey is not acceptable. If I have to get the bus with my son we get a taxi as it’s cheaper. A one-mile walk is no issue when it’s not cold, dark and wet when I finish work at 5.15.”

Stagecoach, the county’s biggest bus operator, has this year increased its fares by an average of 4.8 per cent – compared with an inflation rate of 2.5 per cent.

A spokesman said: “We work hard to keep any fare changes to a minimum. The fare changes we made this year were lower than the 3.6 per cent increase in costs experienced by bus operators in England. In addition, we froze the price online of our weekly and monthly tickets which are used by most customers.

“Supportive local authority policies, and improved bus priority schemes, are key to enabling operators to continue improving services.”