Petition calls for First to reduce its Bristol bus fares
A petition has been launched calling for the fares of First buses in Bristol to be reduced.
The e-petition, which criticises the bus ticket prices and the service provided by First in the city, calls on the Government to force the company to reduce its charges.
Due to be sent to the Department for Transport next year, the petition reads: “The prices of First groups bus tickets in Bristol and the quality of their service do not match up.
“Their fares are the most expensive outside of London, but yet their buses are unreliable and often late. Local government does nothing to improve the service or lower the prices so we call on the government to force First to reduce their charges”.
Graphic designer Daniel Farr, who launched the petition, told This is Bristol: “I have been frustrated with First for a number of years, but recently I feel overcharged on my ticket.
“I feel the service is unreliable and inefficient, so I set up the petition to try to do something, even if it just makes me feel better.
“I would not mind paying so much if it was more reliable.”
Mr Farr, who says he pays around £6 to travel from the centre of Bristol to Backwell for work, added: “Every day the bus is at least a few minutes late, and sometimes I could be waiting 10 or 15 minutes, which I don’t think is acceptable.
“The ticket is expensive in the current climate, but if it was worth £6 I would not mind paying it.”
The petition, which can be found here, has so far attracted 37 signatures.
Mr Farr said: “I’m hoping to get a substantial number of signatures and maybe present it to the Mayor George Ferguson; then put pressure on people to try to get First to do something to make their buses more affordable.”
A First spokesperson challenged many of the suggestions made in the petition, and told This is Bristol: "We are aware of the e-petition that has been set up and we respect the democratic right of bus users in the region to raise their concerns in this way.
“We would, however, draw attention to the following facts regarding bus services and the associated fares in Bristol. Firstly bus fares have to be set at a level which covers the cost of operating the buses, that is to say they must create enough revenue to cover staff costs, vehicle investment, fuel, insurance, maintenance, and the various back office functions that are required to keep buses on the road.
“Changes in the wider economy – including cuts by central and local government – have also taken their toll, but despite this we do everything we can to keep fares as low as possible.
“We are committed to restricting fare reviews to once a year, and have taken steps to freeze or reduce as many fares as possible in recent years. Notably the Bristol day ticket – which offers unlimited travel in and around the city - has remained frozen at £4 since 2010.
“Our own customer surveys show a significant improvement in value for money scores, with a continuing upward trend and initiatives whereby Family Day tickets have been reduced for school holidays, and the FirstDay Bristol ticket offered for a 50 per cent discount after 10am, have further contributed to improving satisfaction scores."
The spokesperson denied First fares in Bristol are the most expensive outside of London, pointing to the £4.60 Cardiff Bus day ticket and the £10 Southern Vectis day ticket for buses on Isle of Wight.
The spokesperson also challenged the suggestion “their buses are unreliable and often late”. They said: “Punctuality and reliability has improved significantly in recent years, and following the launch of the Greater Bristol Bus Network we launched a Customer Promise, which refunds the cost of journeys (in travel vouchers) if the bus is more than one minute early (at a timing point) or more than 20 mins late and the cause of the delay is due to us.”
John Birch, chairman of the West of England Bus Operators' Association (WEBOA), explained operators are under pressure because a number of rebates such as the fuel tax rebate for bus fuel (BSOG) have recently been cut.
He said: “Bus fares will be kept to a level reflective of the cost of running the service. A lot of people don’t understand the pressure operators are under and think they are raising them willy nilly. There are huge pressures on them that are making their lives very difficult.”