Article by Maurice Richmond: Campaigners hope that a proposed hike in bus fares will help to protect services under threat of being cancelled.
Bus fares on 75 south Essex routes will be increased by five per cent as part of Essex County Council plans, and a further two reviews are proposed for April 2017 and 2018.
County Hall insists the proposals will come in to allow “non-commercial” bus services to be protected through a five per cent bus fare rise next month following a public consultation.
For instance, a £2 fare will increase to £2.10 in September 2016, £2.20 in 2017 and £2.30 in 2018.
The council held a public consultation in June as it attempts to bring fares more in line with buses run by commercial operators.
The increase will come into effect from September, 5 and will affect bus services operated under contract to Essex County Council. These will only apply to adult and child single and return tickets, the Day Villager and 10/20 Journey multi-journey tickets. It will not affect people who use their concessionary bus pass to travel.
From April 1 2019 onwards, prices will then increase in line with the Retail Price Index , which is set by the Government.
South Essex services which will see an increase include the 7 service from Southend to Rayleigh, the 14 from Southend to Shoebury and the 256 Nibs Buses Billericay to Basildon.
Peter Slattery, chairman of the Southend Area Bus Users Group, says he is only in favour of the proposals if they protect vital services from being taken off the roads.
[quote width="auto" align="none" border="#0066cc" color="#0066cc" title="Quoted by Peter Slattery"]We’re in a lose-lose situation really, it’s almost like the devil and the deep blue sea. There are services being taken off the road, such as the 5 from Basildon to Southend, and they need to be protected. Nobody like to see an increase of course, from the bus companies’ side they are looking to ensure that fares can make the services profitable. If this brings improvement, then we are in favour of it, but it has to be a justified.[/quote]
Eddie Johnson, councillor responsible for Highways and Transport Delivery, says the plans are “vital” to ensure routes can keep pace with commercial operators.
[quote width="auto" align="none" border="#0066cc" color="#0066cc" title="Quoted by Eddie Johnson"]We proposed these increases as a way of helping to ensure the future of a number of vital bus routes across the county. We need to bring our bus fares up to date and more in line with commercial operators. After years of freezing fares, it is vital we make this small increase otherwise there is a risk we could lose these bus services altogether.[/quote]
For more information on affected services, visit www.essexhighways.org/Transport-and-Roads/Getting-Around/Bus/Fares-and-bus-passes/Bus-fares-consultation.aspx
Article by Maurice Richmond, The Echo