Tomorrow – 4 January – local bus operator First Bus will raise its fares.
James Lewis, West Yorkshire Combined Authority Transport Committee Chair and Leeds Labour Councillor, has responded to the fare rises –
‘at a time when people are seeing widespread media reports of fuel prices dropping significantly, First has taken the decision to introduce this increase in fares that many people already consider expensive. ‘
“People had been contacting me asking when fares were going to drop in line with falling oil prices and I have had to tell them that the current framework, under which buses outside London are run in this country, the Combined Authority has no say on these decisions.’
As we’ve said before, this underlines how far Leeds needs local powers over its buses – their routes AND fares.
These fare increases follow recent comments by the Chief of bus operator Stagecoach – that the bus pass for older people was ‘unaffordable’. This from a man who had just pocketed a £2.2 million annual pay packet – including 1 £600,000 bonus!
First Group is also a nice little earner for its bosses – their Chief, Tim O’Toole, also walked away this year with a £600,000 bonus, part of a cool £2 million pay deal.
As James comments – this is an industry dependent on public subsidy. It is also one making very handsome profits – often out of the operation of local monopolies.
It is time it was under proper local control – as he says, all this
‘ illustrates why we are seeking the powers we need to regulate bus services properly so that the needs of local communities can be put before those of big corporations who have made a mint out of their local monopolies and have, it would appear, become too comfortable, and lost their grip of economic realities, as a result.’
You can read James’s full statements below.
Labour’s proposals – for Passenger Power – will give just the powers James is asking for.
Buses are an essential means of transport – a lifeline to older people, essential to the young, to families with small children, a service important to less well-off people in general. They’re also essential to the health – physical and economic – of our communities and high streets.
It’s about time these local communities controlled them again.
You can help ensure that power over buses IN Leeds is exercised by the people OF Leeds by voting Labour in May.
And you can help us make sure that happens, by signing up to give us a hand in getting rid of the LibDem/Tory Coalition here in Leeds NW – sign up here.
Statement by James Lewis on the fare rises in Leeds “While I understand bus companies buy fuel at fixed, hedged prices, I am sure that West Yorkshire’s bus users will join me in calling for a commitment from First to reduce its fares in the future when it starts to benefit from the current drop in cost.” The average increase of First fares across West Yorkshire is 2.8% although one adult single fares will rise 8% from £1.20 to £1.30. Other West Yorkshire fares going up include the company’s annual ticket from £650 to £680, its three-month ticket from £183 to £195, its monthly ticket from £65 to £68 and weekly ticket from £19.50 to £20.’
Cllr James Lewis also chairs the group of six transport committees serving the six largest city regions outside London.
This is his response to the Stagecoach chief’s attack on the older persons’ bus pass.
‘The comments by Stagecoach Chief Executive, Martin Griffiths, about the concessionary bus pass for older people being unaffordable, whilst complaining that he and his company are underpaid, are shocking and deplorable.
That anyone who operates in an industry that is dependent on public subsidy, and is relied upon by the poorest in country, could think that six monthly profits that have risen to nearly £125 million are not enough, shows that this a company that is out of touch with the people who use its services and the taxpayer that subsidises them.
The fact is that there are millions of older people on low incomes for whom the concessionary pass is a lifeline.
Research by KPMG for the bus industry funded Greener Journeys, also showed that there are substantial economic benefits from the concessionary pass. The study found that for every pound spent on concessionary bus travel there are benefits of £2.87 as the pass helps tackle the health costs associated with people being stuck in their own homes, means more shopping on the high streets, saves on specialised transport, reduces congestion on the roads, and enables older people to contribute more to society as a whole.
Martin Griffith’s comments also illustrate why we are seeking the powers we need to regulate bus services properly so that the needs of local communities can be put before those of big corporations like Stagecoach who have made a mint out of their local monopolies and have, it would appear, become too comfortable, and lost their grip of economic realities, as a result.’