Transport chief challenges bus fares

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Arriva Bus © Megan Hill

Arriva Bus © Megan Hill

A Merseyside transport chief has said he is disappointed about what he says is the unfair fare structure of bus companies across Liverpool.

Councillor Liam Robinson, who chairs the Integrated Transport Authority, has slammed bus operators due to the unfair flat fare rate they impose for all journeys across Liverpool.

Comparing it to Manchester and other areas of the country, who have a variable fares which make shorter journeys cheaper, Robinson wants the same structure to be implemented across Liverpool.

His argument comes after value for money was the lowest scoring measure of customer satisfaction on the latest survey by Passenger Focus last week. The survey showed 33% of customers were unsatisfied with the price of bus fare and 39% dissatisfied with Arriva’s prices in particular, a result which just ‘is not good enough’ according to the Merseyside transport chief.

Robinson said: “While some week and season tickets can offer good value, these are not a viable option for those people who don’t have the money upfront and can only pay as and when they need to use the bus.”

He also highlighted how “vulnerable customers are being penalised by this structure”. A short-hop journey costs £2.20 which is the same as a long-haul journey from Bootle to Aigburth.

“If they are able to deliver these cheaper fares in places like Greater Manchester, West Yorkshire and the West Midlands then I can see no reason why they can’t do it also in the Liverpool City Region.

“In my view, there needs to be a complete re-think of the business model with value for money the secret of its success. It needs to become a travel mode of choice rather than a mode for those who may have no choice.”

Howard Farrall, area managing director for Arriva Merseyside, told JMU Journalism: “We constantly review our fares to give our customers the best value for money possible.

“In 2013, for example, we extended our Liverpool zone so customers in Merseyside benefitted from a £4 reduction in their weekly ticket and everyone in Merseyside could travel further using the ticket, and the price has been held since then.

Farrall insists that the facilities Arriva provide their customers with ultimately have an impact on fare prices.

He added: “Wage costs, investment in new technology such as ticket machines and CCTV, insurance and new vehicles which cost in the region of £190,000 each do have an impact on our costs and fares, as does the cost of fuel, which is brought up to three years in advance meaning day to day changes in price at the pumps do not have an immediate effect.”

About Megan Hill, JMU Journalism