Cllr Michael Andrewes

Lib Dem Councillor for St Jude Ward - Working for Southsea Learn more

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Outrage at bus fare hikes!

by michaelandrewes on 23 January, 2015

Local councillor demands First Bus cut fares

A Portsmouth councillor says that he is shocked, outraged and amazed that First Bus is increasing ticket prices tomorrow (Saturday 24th January) when the cost of fuel is falling dramatically. Cllr Michael Andrewes  says this is “blatant profiteering” by First Bus at the expense of its passenger and he is writing to the company to demand it abandons its fare increases and reduces them instead.

First Bus which operates the vast majority of routes in Portsmouth are increasing individual tickets in the Solent area tomorrow and have already increased some season tickets. The company is Britain’s largest bus operator made an operating profit of £232 million last year.

Diesel prices are down about 15% in the last twelve months. And the Lib Dem Treasury Minister, Danny Alexander wrote at the beginning of January to the largest bus companies including First Bus demanding that they pass on the fuel reduction to their customers.

Cllr Andrewes said: “This is blatant profiteering by First Bus at the expense of residents in Portsmouth and Southsea. I am shocked and outraged that not only is First Bus not passing on the reductions in the fuel price but they have the nerve to increase fares. So I have written to have asking them to reconsider this and reduce fares instead. I am also writing to the transport bosses at the City Council asking them to investigate this and asking that the council look at cutting the subsides that the council gives the bus company as lower costs and higher fares must mean that less subsidy is needed on uneconomic routes.”

First Bus Ticket Rises: http://www.firstgroup.com/ukbus/hampshire/travel_news/news_initiatives/?item=24691&conf=0

Cost of diesel: http://www.dairyco.org.uk/market-information/farm-expenses/monthly-fuel-tracker/monthly-fuel-tracker/#.VMEYHtKsWSp

Details of Danny Alexander’s letter to bus companies: http://www.libdems.org.uk/bus-fare-cuts

First Bus financial results at: http://www.firstgroupplc.com/investors/five-year-summary.aspx

 

Letter to First Bus from Cllr Andrewes

Mr Matthew Callow

Commercial Manager

First Bus Hampshire

Dear Mr Callow

I am writing as Portsmouth City Councillor for St Jude Ward in Southsea. I note that you have increased some season tickets last Saturday and are increasing individual tickets this Saturday 24th January for journeys in the Portsmouth and South Hampshire area.  I have to say that I am shocked, outraged and amazed by this. Because you will be aware that since you last put up fares, the cost of diesel and fuel has decreased by some 10%-15%. First Bus will also have received a letter recently from that the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander asking the major bus companies like First Bus to pass on the decrease in fuel costs to their passengers. Not only are you are not ignoring this and not reducing ticket prices, you actually have the nerve to put them up.

My understanding is that effectively the decrease in fuel is more for bus companies than the “pump price” because they get 60% of the fuel duty back through the Bus Service Operators Grant (BSOG). Given the subsidy that taxpayers are giving bus companies both in fuel duty and through the subsidy that Portsmouth Council and other councils give to bus companies I think it is beholden on bus companies to pass on the decrease in fuel prices to passengers. I hope – even at this late stage you will consider not going ahead with the ticket increases and I hope that you will review the situation very swiftly and pass on the cut in the price of fuel to your passengers.

I look forward to receiving a response to this letter very soon and I would be grateful if I could meet with First Bus very soon to discuss this further. Thank you for your help, time and work on this.

Best wishes

Cllr Michael Andrewes

Email to Chief Executive, Senior Financial Officer and Head of Traffic and Transport from Cllr Michael Andrewes

Dear Mr Moon, Mr Williams and Mr Ward

As you may be aware First Bus Hampshire increased the cost of some of their season tickets last Saturday and this Saturday (24th January) they are increasing the price of their individual single and return tickets. As you can appreciate this of great concern to residents in my ward and I am sure across Portsmouth and Southsea. At the same time during the 12 month period since the last fares rise the cost of diesel and fuel as decreased by approximately 15%. The Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander has written to the five major bus companies asking that they should pass on the “dramatic fall” in diesel to their passengers. My understanding is that (for most fuel types) 60% of fuel duty is refunded through the Bus Service Operators Grant (BSOG) so the fall for bus companies is more than that at the pump.

I would be grateful for a number of things.

If you could look into whether the price rises and reduction in costs to First Bus has any impact on those routes that the council subsidises as it would seem to me that if costs are down and fares up the loss on these routes would be decreased and there would less need of a subsidy.

If you could look into this on behalf of Portsmouth residents and encourage First Bus to heed the advice of the national Government to pass on the diesel and fuel reductions to our residents and remind them of the advice of Treasury Minister.

Whether you could tell me whether this has any impact on the cost to the council of the bus pass for pensioners.

Thank you for your help, time and work it is greatly appreciated and as I say this is of concern to my residents.

I look forward to receiving your reply shortly.

All the best

Best wishes

Michael

Cllr Michael Andrewes

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