Candidate promises £1.50 fare cap
A MAYORAL candidate has promised to introduce £1 and £1.50 bus fares in Bristol if he is allowed to take control of the city's bus services.
Liberal Democrat Jon Rogers, a cabinet councillor who used to be in charge of the city's transport department, wants to see a "Transport Bristol" authority set up to run them – in the same way as London.
He said the city's buses have been monopolised by First, a private company, which is more interested in making money for shareholders than the people of Bristol.
He said: "There are 30 million journeys in Bristol each year and the cost of providing buses is about £40 million.
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"If we charge £1 for each journey, then we would be £10 million short but if we charged £1.50, then we would have £5 million left."
He wants to see a mix of fares at both prices which would mean travelling across the city from one end to the other would cost a maximum of £1.50. The charges could be set according to length of journey time or by using bus zones.
He said: "It's ridiculous that someone should have to pay £2.85 to travel down the Gloucester Road to get into the city centre.
"First run 88 per cent of the city's bus services so they effectively have a monopoly.
"A lot of people think the council decides what buses we get, but that's not the case.
"First doesn't care about the people of Bristol, it only cares about its shareholders."
He said there was a risk to the council taking control of the buses because if the number of passengers declined, then there might be a shortfall which council taxpayers would have to pay for.
But he believed that after the cheaper fares were introduced, there would inevitably be a lag before people started to take advantage of cheaper public transport.
Councillors are discussing tonight whether to give their support to quality contracts – effectively re-regulating bus services in Bristol so the council takes control of routes and fares.
Dr Rogers said the legal and government paperwork would take about three years before the council could take over the buses.
But he would want to see a result before the end of his four-year term of office if elected.
A First spokeswoman said the company would respond to the comments at a later date.