Stagecoach East’s plans to increase fares across Cambridgeshire is ‘atrocious’
Local leaders have lined up to condemn a local bus company after it announced plans to increase fares.
Cambridgeshire County Council Chairwoman Cllr Lucy Nethsingha said: “I am absolutely disgusted to hear that Stagecoach is planning to increase ticket prices for all their services and to announce this just before Christmas is heartless.
“While it will not make this terrible news any easier, following our intervention, Stagecoach has agreed to delay the increases until the New Year.
“I’m furious, this comes as an added blow to the bus company’s decision to scrap or reduce more than 30 services and comes after they announced significant gains as a group earlier in the year.
“These price increases, which will result in a £2 increase in ‘large group’ tickets, leave Cambridgeshire residents to face punitive price hikes whilst also trying to cope with soaring heating and grocery bills.
“I urge Stagecoach to reconsider these price increases and I will continue to work tirelessly on the need for a different relationship with bus companies. We are working with the Greater Cambridge Partnership and the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority and are lobbying the government to ensure those who rely on buses are not constantly at the mercy of Stagecoach’s profit margin.”
Deputy Chair of Cambridgeshire County Council’s Highways and Transport Committee, Cllr Neil Shailer, said: “This is truly terrible news and goes against everything we are trying to do as a joint administration to achieve more accessible, affordable and sustainable travel options.
“This is a shockingly callous commercial decision over which we have no control.
“The agreement to postpone the increases until the turn of the year helps in the run-up to Christmas. But this highlights once again the need to take back control of our buses and put public money into public services.”
The Combined Authority is absolutely appalled by Stagecoach’s unilateral decision to increase their fares when they are already failing to meet their published timetables, and with last-minute cancellations of buses leaving passengers stranded in extreme winter weather. While we recognize that as a commercial organization they can raise their prices whenever they wish, we are shocked that Stagecoach has not consulted with the Combined Authority on this course of action.
Combined Authority Deputy Mayor Councilor Anna Smith said of the decision: “It’s hard to believe that during one of the worst cost-of-living crises we’ve seen in recent years, Stagecoach would not only increase bus fares, but it would would also announce this just before Christmas. We know how important buses are to our communities and what a lifeline they are to help people get to work, school, supermarkets and hospitals. Such a decision by an organization that has announced significant earnings this year is nothing short of appalling. At the Combined Authority we will continue to explore all the different avenues available to us to raise key funds for our bus network and continue to work closely with our partners, lobbying the government and denouncing reckless decisions by commercial operators whenever we do the case happened.”