Protesters in Bristol call for First Bus to 'make fares fair'
LOCAL MPs and Bristol City councillors spoke at a demonstration to reduce First Bus fares today.
Make Fares Fair was organised by 33-year-old graphic designer Daniel Farr, whose online petition has gathered almost 3,000 signatures.
Around 30 people gathered to protest against prices of bus travel - among the highest in the UK - with First Bus representatives also attending.
The rally, which has been planned since December, followed an announcement by First this week that they will be reviewing their fares. The company plans to hold a wide-reaching consultation on its price plan.
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MPs Kerry McCarthy (Lab), Charlotte Leslie (Con) and Stephen Williams (Lib Dem) all spoke at the event, as did Bristol City councillors Mark Bradshaw (Lab, Bedminster) and Jon Rogers (Lib Dem, Ashley) and South Gloucestershire councillor Ben Walker (UKIP).
Opening the speeches was Green Party activist Rob Telford, who helped get Mr Farr's project off the ground.
He said that the event would not be an “isolated protest” but would be part of a drive to change the way local transport is operated.
Mr Rogers, who campaigned to become Bristol mayor on the promise he would introduce £1.50 bus fares, said power over transport needs to be given back to the people.
Mr Williams repeated calls for an Integrated Transport Authority like Transport for London, which would have the powers to set fares and routes.
Ms McCarthy expressed her shock at the prices of buses which, she believes, are forcing people into cars or cabs. She called for trial routes with cheaper fares to get more people on to public transport and ease congestion.
First’s regional managing director in the South West and Wales, Justin Davies, said prices were high in the city due, in part, to slow traffic speeds.
In a statement the company added: “We have understood the level of concern that there is locally about the perceived cost of bus travel, and in response to this we have announced our intention to run a public consultation on the issue and also undertake a structural review of bus fares in the Greater Bristol Travel to Work Area.”