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Tuesday, 02 September 2014

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Bus users taken for a ride over 100 per cent ticket price hike?

Bus passengers in West Cumbria have been left reeling after being hit by huge fare increases.

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Price shock: Reays has increased bus fares

Passengers using Reays bus services have seen increases of more than 100 per cent in some cases.

Margaret Andrews, 59, of Allonby, was shocked when she got on the bus to Workington last Wednesday and was told that the fare had risen from £4.80 for a return to £5.50 each way, with no option of a return ticket.

She has written to Workington MP Sir Tony Cunningham asking for his help on the issue.

Mrs Andrews said: “I was disappointed and shocked. I knew there was an increase coming because there was a notice on the buses but I didn’t expect it to be that sort of increase. I thought it might be 20p or 30p.”

She used to visit Workington for shopping twice a week but said she would cut that to once a week because of the new fares and walk to Prospect, over an hour away, to get a Stagecoach bus if she could to save money.

Mary Bainbridge, centre co-ordinator at West Cumbria Trades Hall Centre in Workington, said unemployed people using its services had been hit by the price rises.

The centre provides access to support, training, education and employment for unemployed people.

Mrs Bainbridge said one man getting on the bus to travel from Dearham to Maryport last week had been told that his journey back would cost £4 rather than the £1.70 he had paid previously.

She added: “It’s only £3.20 to go on the Stagecoach bus from Maryport to Workington and back.

“If you’re an unemployed person it’s going to take some of your food budget or gas or electricity budget.

“People are going to be stuck and have to either walk it or ask someone for money.”

Sir Tony said several constituents had contacted him about the rises and he would write to Reays asking for an explanation.

He said: “It’s not only been a huge hike in cost, it’s the surprise. To find out when you get on the bus that it’s gone up more than 100 per cent is a shock.

“People deserve an explanation and there should have been a greater warning of substantial price rises.”

A spokesman for Reays said: “The 35, 36, 58 and 60 bus services are now being run entirely on a commercial basis for the first time since 1998. This means the revenue generated solely by passengers’ bus fares must at least cover the drivers’ wages, fuel and vehicle costs to make the routes a viable proposition.

“It is not easy to do this on predominantly rural services like these, which travel long distances through more sparsely populated areas and have fewer passengers to attract, unlike in big cities. With no subsidies any longer, it means these fares had to rise.

“The fares structure has also been simplified, with just single or weekly tickets now available. Minimum fares have been increased because there had only been minimal rises in these for many years while the services were subsidised.

“Fares have been brought into line too with corresponding distances on other services we run in other parts of the county.

“We’re trying to give our regular passengers the best service and best value we possibly can.

“But it comes back to the fact that if you don’t have enough people travelling on your buses throughout the week, you cannot afford to run them with individual fares from as little as 95p, not when they are being run on a commercial basis without any subsidy.”

Have your say

Is it not enough for Reays to make a number of drivers redundant in the earlier stages of this year that they are going to make more loose jobs because folk are not getting the buses? All down to management greediness. I feel for the drivers as it is not their fault and they are on the front line. Come on Mr Reay get on a bus and be the face for a change!

Posted by Anon on 10 November 2013 at 12:38

Stiick with stagecoach you no what you are getting not the newest buses but they are replacing them well done

Posted by Dave on 9 November 2013 at 12:58

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