Leeds bus users' New Year fares warning

Bus users were today told to brace themselves for inflation-busting New Year fare rises.

Bosses at Arriva Yorkshire have announced that six of their single fares will go up by 10p from January 2.

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The average increase works out at just over five per cent while the country's current inflation rate stands at 3.3 per cent.

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The cost of some of the firm's day and week passes will also go up on January 2, with rises ranging from 20p to a pound.

Arriva Yorkshire runs around 120 services a day in the Leeds, Wakefield, Castleford, Dewsbury and Selby areas.

Its managing director, Nigel Featham, said the price hikes came on the back of increased outlay on fuel and insurance.

He went on: "We are committed to providing customers with cost effective bus travel and we have managed to hold fares frozen for almost two years now.

"In order to ensure we can continue providing our customers with the best service possible we now need to increase some fares.

"Even so, we have managed to keep over half of fares frozen and none of our single fares will rise by more than 10p."

News of the increases comes amid mounting criticism of the state of West Yorkshire's bus services. One campaign group, Fair Fares For All, has been set up in response to price changes by First, Leeds's biggest operator.

Its members are calling on Metro, the county's publicly-funded passenger transport authority, to press ahead with plans for a contracts system that would weaken the private sector's hold on the bus industry.

The 'quality contracts' scheme would give Metro the final say on issues like fares and routes, matters currently decided by profit-driven operators.

First, however, recently put forward an alternative plan for a halfway house partnership agreement.

It would allow Metro and local councils more input on issues such as fares without removing the operator from the decision-making process altogether.

A second group, the Leeds Student Bus Campaign, is calling for better services in Headingley and the rest of Leeds's university heartland.