19 April 2018
Exeter Green Party has described plans by Stagecoach to scrap the £1 child add-on fare for buses in Exeter as a ‘total injustice’. The fare, which enables any child to travel with a fare paying adult for £1, was originally secured after Green Party negotiations with former Managing Director, Mike Watson. Stagecoach plan to withdraw the ticket at the end of April as part of a fares restructuring .
Andrew Bell, who is standing as Green Party candidate in Alphington and helped negotiate the add-on fare, said:
“I am utterly livid! This is an act of total injustice against families in Exeter. A single parent travelling with one child will see a gigantic hike in the costs of travelling by bus. Where they used to pay £4.90 for a Dayrider and a child add-on, they will now have to fork out £7.00. This is completely unacceptable. There can be no moral or ethical justification for such a steep hike and it will drive people away from buses and into cars, just at a time when our air quality and congestion is critical.”
Mr Bell also says the company are misleading the public by claiming they are introducing a new £3 child Dayrider ticket to replace the add-on which will ‘provide a day of unlimited, discounted travel’. He said:
“Stagecoach are claiming they are launching a ticket that already exists! All they are doing is forcing families to pay 200% more for a child Dayrider ticket – the £1 add-on already allows children unlimited travel for a day when an adult uses a Dayrider or Megarider ticket. As for the new £8 group ticket, this will only be cheaper than the current ticketing arrangements for a family of two adults and two children, not for single adults travelling with one, two or even three children, which is so often the case.”
Green Councillor, Chris Musgrave, hopes that Exeter City Council, Devon County Council and the travelling public can work together to pile pressure on Stagecoach to change tack. Exeter Greens have requested an urgent meeting with Stagecoach bosses to discuss the issue. Cllr Musgrave said:
“It seems that Stagecoach are only interested in the bottom line. The company clearly feels no sense of responsibility towards the people or environment of Exeter - if they calculate that they can make more money carrying less passengers they will do so. We need both Councils to challenge the company over this deeply unfair fare hike. I hope Stagecoach bosses will agree to our request to discuss this issue with them. The company needs to know how hugely unpopular this move is and that they must think again.”
A petition launched against the abolition of the £1 add-on fare has reached almost 1300 signatures. Comments include: “This [is] a human rights act violation as it picks on the poorer vulnerable parents”; “totally unacceptable as people using buses are trying to survive on lower incomes and need access to buses to enable them to take their children out” and, “when this was introduced, it made a big difference to many families. Since then, with family incomes squeezed in every way, this measure could seriously impact some children's ability to attend school, go to dentist's and doctor's appointments, participate in sporting activities... the list goes on. Please reconsider this disproportionate and unfair price rise.
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