3 May 2017

The Green Party have condemned fare rises on Exeter’s bus services, with some tickets rising by at least double the rate of inflation. Green City Councillor, Chris Musgrave and County Council candidates, Diana Moore and Andrew Bell, have written to Stagecoach demanding an explanation for the fares hike.

The new fares came into force on 30th April with the popular ‘dayrider’ ticket rising from £3.70 to £3.90, a 5.5% rise, more than twice the current level of inflation. While single fares to the city centre have in some cases been reduced, on other shorter journeys they have risen by around 4%. Diana Moore, candidate in St David’s and Haven Banks, said: 

“The current single fares in Exeter, even before the latest prices changes, are extremely high. Having removed return tickets a few years ago, Stagecoach are deliberately pushing passengers into buying the dayrider ticket as the cheapest return option. This has risen by more than twice the rate of inflation – a nice earner for Stagecoach but a move that will leave many passengers short changed.” 

The Greens have also raised concerns about child fares, with the new rate for a child dayrider well in excess of two thirds the adult rate. Andrew Bell, Exeter Green Party transport campaigner and candidate in Alphington and Cowick, said: 

“At £3, a child dayrider now costs way more than two thirds the adult fare. This ticket should be priced around £2.60. We only hope that Stagecoach are retaining the popular £1 child add-on fare, enabling a child to travel with a fare paying adult for just a pound. It was Greens who pushed for this ticket and successfully lobbied Stagecoach to extend it to an all-day ticket rather than just evenings and weekends.” 

In their letter to Bob Dennison, Managing Director of Stagecoach South West, the Greens also draw attention to the large discrepancy between the price of park and ride services, for both adults and children, and regular bus services. Mr Bell continued: 

“We would like to know why car drivers are advantaged in this way and why park and ride fares could not be increased a bit more to help lower fares for regular city bus users. It is a scandal that it is more expensive to board a bus along one of the P&R routes than to get on it at the car park at the beginning of the route. This seems blatant discrimination against foot passengers and in favour of car drivers. 

Chris Musgare, City councillor for Alphington, concluded:

“The Green Party are totally committed to promoting bus travel in Exeter as a way of relieving our chronically congested roads and tackling our air pollution crisis. These problems are likely to get only worse as the city expands. But our desire to promote public transport is made very difficult when it is such an expensive alternative to using the car. Why would anyone living in Alphington who has a car and can use free parking in St Thomas, for example, use a bus to get there when it costs £3.90 to do so? It would cost a family of four £9.80. Outrageous! 

“It is clear we need to take a serious look at a franchising scheme, whereby Devon County Council would specify services, frequencies and fares, and operators – including not-for-profit companies – compete for contracts to provide the services. Such a system has led to huge passenger growth in London, and we should investigate whether this would serve passengers better than the totally uncontrolled market for buses we have currently.”