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Confusion as Brighton and Hove Buses announces fare increases.

Brighton and Hove Buses have announced increases in bus fares to be implemented from 16 January 2018. Several news outlets reported incorrectly on the rise, and a spokesman for B&H Buses told The Badger the outlets “made a few errors in their story… This is where they get the erroneous claim that fares are going up by up to 46%.”

Whilst fares aren’t going to increase by nearly 50%, as earlier reported, they are going to increase. The spokesperson confirmed that 1-day student CitySAVERs will increase in price from £3.00 to £3.20 and not the £4.40 quoted by other news outlets. They claim that this is the first fare increase for this ticket since its introduction in December 2014.

Brighton & Hove Buses Managing Director, Martin Harris, said: “I very much regret I’ve had to raise more prices than I would have liked… I want to personally apologise to our customers. I understand that this is scant comfort for those passengers who now find themselves with higher fares to pay.

“I have had to make some very difficult decisions this year. Congestion in the city is getting considerably worse which means we need to run more buses and hire more drivers just to deliver the same level of service…

“What’s more, I have to balance the investment needed to buy in more, new, cleaner buses for the good of all our health against keeping prices as low as I can. This year our customers have paid for 31 new nearly emissions-free buses. Each one comes at a cost of over £200,000.”

The 7-day student CitySAVER will also increase in price. Currently costing £13.00, the ticket will increase to £13.50 and not £17.oo as several local news outlets claimed.

The spokesperson also said: “we’ve introduced two and three-day saver tickets specifically for students to help them make more flexible choices where it will save them money.”.

B&H also introduced 28-day savers for students earlier in the year. This was aimed at students who could not afford the larger upfront payments for better value, longer-term 90-day savers and annual savers.

The introduction of the 28-day ticket came after campaigning by the Students’ Union and its president Frida Gustafsson. Ms Gustafsson told The Badger: “Improving bus services was a key part of my manifesto when I was elected and students recently voted overwhelmingly in favour of a policy for cheaper and easier travel to campus so the Students’ Union opposes any price increases above the rate of inflation.

“We know that, like many others, students are struggling with the high cost of living and I’m disappointed that there was no consultation on the planned changes. I’m working with the University to lobby the bus company to improve services and prices for students.”

Martin Harris, the company’s Managing Director, said: “I genuinely did my best to keep the price rises minimal… Inflation is running at four percent and the aggregate revenue from our price increase is 3.2 percent. Individually some prices have risen by more than this and some by less.”

Other fares will also be increased. The centrefare ticket, for travel in the city centre, will cost £2.20 and a regular one-day citySAVER will increase from £4.20 to £4.40.

A spokesperson from B&H buses told The Badger that some fares will be frozen including the citySAVER at £5.00, short hops at £2.00, the young persons’ accompanied BusID at 50p, the family networkSAVER at £9.00 (prepaid) and the cash price at £10.00 and key card multi-trip prices from 10 to 30 trips will also have their price frozen.

Differences in price for prepaid and cash price tickets, which are bought on board the bus, are aimed at encouraging passengers to adopt digital tickets. According to B&H Buses, this is to encourage speedier boarding on the bus and the company are freezing some prices so as not to discriminate against those who can not go cashless.

For example, buying a regular NetworkSAVER on the bus will cost passengers fifty pence more from January at £7.00. However, if they purchase an e-ticket in advance, the same ticket will cost them £4.90. The cash-on-the-bus price for a City Single to travel in the citySaver area will go up by 10 pence to £2.60. And the unaccompanied busID will become £1.00.

With regards to cutting some night services, Martin Harris said: “I have had to cut back on some parts of our night services – though I assure you I remain committed to expanding and growing this network. It is extremely unusual for a bus operator to run night services without subsidy – as we do.

“I know the bus service is important to you. I’m also keenly aware I can’t make the pain go away right now for those affected. But I can promise to do my very best to run the best service I can, to keep listening to customers and review and invest in our services with the needs of the city and the health and welfare of its citizens in mind.”

Brighton and Hove Buses’ website can be visited for more details on timetable and fare changes coming in to effect in January 2018.

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