Bus users condemn ‘stealth’ bus fare rises across Warwick and Leamington

Stagecoach, which operates the region’s buses, introduced a new range of fares in late April designed to ‘simplify’ its offer to residents

Students and elderly bus users have condemned sudden bus fare rises for many trips around Warwick and Leamington.

Stagecoach, which operates the region’s buses, introduced a new range of fares in late April designed to "simplify” its offer to residents.

This included scrapping return tickets and a huge reduction in traditional single fares to be replaced by DayRider options.

Stagecoach, which operates the region’s buses, introduced a new range of fares in late April designed to "simplify” its offer to residents.

The company has confirmed price rises for some fares but also claimed many others will decrease or remain the same price.

Chris King, the newly elected Warwick District councillor for the Clarendon ward, has pledged to lobby for increased subsidies or price caps to make up for the recent hikes.

He says students and the elderly will be particularly badly affected and should not be paying more during a cost-of-living crisis and at a time when public transport should be encouraged.

He said: “There are a few ways I propose to deal with the unacceptable price rises people are being forced to endure.

“We must resolve on Warwick District Council to call on the government for greater funding to go into bus services while lobbying Warwickshire County Council to join with us.

“Extra funding could go straight into additional subsidies, or increasing existing ones, for students and the elderly - two of the hardest hit demographics amid the cost-of-living crisis. Price caps could also be considered.

“Nearly 30 per cent of British bus services have been cut since 2010 – and with another hike in fare prices this will only push more people away.

“Public transport must be incentivised, and it must be affordable and convenient for people to use – despite obvious changes to commuting habits since the pandemic.

“The Bus Back Better scheme budget was slashed by nearly two thirds while pandemic support for the industry has also been withdrawn.

“These price rises could have been averted with investment from government – and still could be reversed.

“I’ll be contacting the government, regional authorities and Stagecoach immediately.”

Mum-of-two Kerstin Friend complained about the irregularity of existing services and the frequency of cancellations – with her young daughter relying on the bus to get back from work at night and her son needing the bus to get to and from school.

She said: “For Stagecoach to put prices up despite having such a shoddy service is completely unreasonable.”

Donna Goodwin, who commutes twice a week to Stratford for work, claims the price of the new DayRider ticket is £1.50 more than the return ticket which used to be available.

She says the rise equates to a £156 yearly increase in travel costs.

And former University of Warwick student Paolo Turrini said: “A return from Leamington to Warwick (university) campus has increased to £4.50, and students are the main source of income for the company.

“It's a clear exploitation plan against individuals who are typically not politically represented, but who are fundamental to boosting the local economy.”

As Stagecoach spokesman said the company would welcome a meeting with Councillor King to discuss the concerns raised in his press release.

They said: “When we reviewed fares in April, for the first time in three years, we looked at ways of simplifying our fares and ticket products. Our customers have been asking us to simplify our tickets and indeed the call for simplification was a key part of the National Bus Strategy.

"We have been pleased to make changes which allowed many customers to make significant savings, for example the Leamington DayRider, which is one of our most popular tickets was reduced by 10 per cent.

“The £4.50 return to Warwick University was increased by 20p and retained due to its popularity. The UniRider ticket range was also reduced this academic year saving students money on their termly travel.

“We would also highlight that concessionary passengers continue to benefit from free travel through the National Concessionary Travel Scheme.

“We continue to work hard to ensure our customers are able to access fares that offer good value for money.

"Fares simplification is making it easier for people to know how much their journey will cost, which is particularly important at this time, when we’re seeing fuel pump prices increase and bus provide a real alternative to the car.”