Bus companies were today challenged to raise their game as well as their ticket prices.
As reported in yesterday’s (March 18) Yorkshire Evening Post, a round of fare increases has been announced for West Yorkshire by operator First.
The firm’s prices will be going up by an average of nearly 3 per cent from April 1, although the cost of some tickets – including a FirstWeek children’s pass – is either falling or remains unchanged.
Metro, the publicly-funded authority that co-ordinates bus and train travel in West Yorkshire, has called First’s decision “disappointing”.
And it also says local operators must do everything possible to provide a service to their passengers that is worth a higher price.
Metro chairman Coun James Lewis said: “What [we want] to see from the bus companies is how they intend introducing simplified and integrated ticketing which offers better value along with levels of services and reliability which reflect the fares they are charging.”
Coun Lewis went on: “At a time when most people are feeling financially squeezed and want to see better value for money from their bus fares it is naturally disappointing to hear this news that fares on First’s bus services across West Yorkshire are going to rise, although the reduction in children’s fares is to be welcomed.”
First won praise at the start of this year by announcing a fares freeze across Leeds and the rest of West Yorkshire.
It now says, however, that increases have been forced on it by “rising costs”. Another local operator, Arriva Yorkshire, put up a number of its single fares in January.
The price rises have come against a backdrop of continuing negotiations over the possible introduction of a new ‘quality contracts’ scheme for the West Yorkshire bus industry.
It would give Metro sole control of issues like fares and routes that at present are the responsibility of profit-driven private operators.
The operators recently put forward alternative proposals that could persuade Metro to pursue a halfway house-style partnership agreement.
A partnership system would give Metro more say on services without removing operators from the decision-making process altogether. Metro is due to choose in May which road to go down. Click here to register and have your say on the stories and issues that matter to you