Bus passengers in Bradley Stoke who purchase First’s Inner Zone Day Rider ticket have been stung with a 10 per cent fare hike that came into effect on 30th November.
The news comes at a time when reliability and punctuality on the 73, X73 and X74 services seems to have reached an all-time low, with more than a hundred complaints and observations about Bradley Stoke’s bus services being registered on The Journal’s website and on social media channels over the last five weeks.
First is blaming the need for the fare increase on a 17.6 per cent increase in passenger numbers over the past year, which it says has led to an increase in the average time taken for passengers to board its buses. This, combined with worsening traffic congestion, compounded by the number of road works across the city has created problems that need to be addressed, according to the press release that announced the change.
First West of England’s new Managing Director James Freeman said:
“We want to expand, and we have plans to bring in more buses, more drivers, more routes and make transport in Bristol better, but at present we’re not able to grow as quickly as we want to be able to, and so we’re making this change to allow us to invest appropriately.”
Speaking on BBC Radio Bristol, Mr Freeman said the company was looking at putting 20 more buses into the network from the next timetable change on 29th March 2015.
‘Fairer Fares’ campaigner Daniel Farr commented:
“This rise will no doubt hit those who have no choice but to rely on public transport the hardest and it is not encouraging that this is the first decision made by the new managing director. I hope this isn’t a sign of things to come!”
For the second month running, The Journal sent a summary of bus passengers’ comments about the 73, X73 and X74 services to First. The company replied with a statement saying it was “concerned” that the number of complaints had continued to mount (see below).
A company spokesperson could not confirm whether any additional buses would be introduced on the routes that serve Bradley Stoke.
A First West of England company spokesperson said:
“We are concerned that the number of complaints regarding services 73 /X73 and X74 have continued to mount over recent weeks. To resolve some of the immediate issues, we have taken steps to bring in around 60 additional drivers to the city – who are being used to fill some gaps we previously had in our staffing levels. This has resolved some of the problems, but not all of them.”
“We are continuing to tackle the timetable concerns that we, and our customers, have. These cannot be resolved overnight as timetables need to be planned and checked before being registered 56 days in advance of a change being made. We are working on it though, and are determined to build robust timetables that are better able to withstand the challenges that operating in and around Bristol can sometimes create. We expect these new timetables to be in place by 29th March 2015. We are also addressing, with our partners, the impact that external factors, such as roadworks, have on our services and our customers.”
The Bradley Stoke Journal’s bus travel survey is continuing – please send us your comments!
We are asking users of the 73, X73 and X74 services to record punctuality, actual journey times and “no show” events, either here on our website (by leaving a comment on this article), on The Journal’s Facebook page (by sending a message or leaving a comment on this post), via The Journal’s Twitter feed or by texting The Journal on 01454 300 400.
Please be sure to tell us which service you were using, direction (e.g. to/from city centre or Cribbs Causeway), where you got on and off and the timetabled/actual times of departure and arrival (if known).
This article originally appeared in the December 2014 edition of the Bradley Stoke Journal news magazine, delivered FREE, EVERY MONTH, to 9,450 homes in Bradley Stoke, Little Stoke and Stoke Lodge. Phone 01454 300 400 to enquire about advertising or leaflet insertion.
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