First Bus to work with MVA Consultancy and The Public Affairs Company on fare review
Bus operator First has announced the appointment of two bodies to help with its consultation into fares ahead of a demonstration tomorrow.
A rally is set to be held outside Marlborough Street Bus Station calling for a reduction in fares.
First announced they would be reviewing their prices under pressure from a petition which has been signed by over 3,000 people now.
The bus company said today that both MVA Consultancy and The Public Affairs Company were to help with their consultation into fares and value for money in the Greater Bristol travel to work area.
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MVA Consultancy is a specialist transport advisory company with a track record of providing advice on transport issues to central, regional and local government, agencies, developers, operators and financiers.
The Public Affairs Company is an established communications consultancy with an established record of achievement, advising charities, companies, trade and professional associations, and others on engaging with political, government and business audiences.
Collectively the two organisations will work with First over the next six months to run the consultation process in the Greater Bristol area.
First say the scope of the review will be to look at fares charged on all First bus services originating, terminating or passing through Bristol City Centre, covering both city bus services and those operating to and from Bristol bus station. The consultants will work with First to develop viable fares models and draw together feedback from stakeholders and the public, while also looking at ways to encourage greater bus use.
A number of public meetings across the region will be run to gather feedback directly from the public.
Justin Davies, Regional Managing Director for First in the South West and Wales, said: "We are pleased that this piece of work is underway. Our team met with MVA on Friday to plan the way forward and we hope shortly to be able to share further details about how the consultation and review will work. Both agencies are very skilled at what they do, and we'll be combining their knowledge and experience with that of our own teams to run this complex consultation process.
"As stated previously, we cannot presuppose what will happen as a result of the process, but we are willing to listen to what people say, and we'll use this information as part of our decision making going forward."
Jeremy Meal, Director Smartcard and Ticketing Strategies at MVA, added: "We believe this is a unique opportunity to understand the economics and stakeholder context for local bus provision in Bristol. This is against a background of reductions in support and subsidy to the UK bus industry in adverse economic conditions. However, we will be exploring a number of wide ranging opportunities from the UK and wider afield to deliver better value for money for customers."
Geoffrey Lawler, Director at The Public Affairs Company, said: "It is hugely important that local politicians engage in the fares review, given their role as champions of the people they represent as well as the broader duty they hold to Bristol as a whole, whether as City Councillors or Members of Parliament. Equally business and community organisations need to have input given the important impact bus services have on the social and economic well-being of the City.
"We look forward to working with First to make sure the consultation reaches out to all sections of the community and gives them the widest possible opportunity to have their say."