It seems odd to me that Thamesdown Transport’s latest fares rise has caused more fuss than their planned route changes, especially as it earlier plans for these route changes ran into so much political opposition. Leading the fuss, step forward Mr Montaut, continuing his approach of not allowing a lack of knowledge on an issue get in the way of him expressing an opinion.
This is deplorable. What the company needs to do is start focusing more on customers and getting people on their buses and less on their own income. The traditional return fare is offered all over the country, but now it is being axed in Swindon. I have the feeling that if Thamesdown continues to act in this fashion pressure groups are going to start popping up for the buses like they have on trains and planes. The thing is, though, if the company acted more responsibly it would not have to come to this.
Absense of return bus fares is actually not that uncommon. As an example Nottingham City Transport which, like Thamesdown Transport is council owned and also like Thamesdown Transport has a no-change-given exact fare only policy, does not offer return fares. And whilst nobody would disagree that Thamesdown Transport should try to get more passengers on its buses, if it ignores its income we, the council taxpayers of Swindon, will end up the owners of a loss-making company. Perhaps Mr Montaut has forgotten his earlier concerns about the level of subsidy paid to the bus company.
The fares increases proposed range from zero (for a single zone single) through 5% for a single zone return journey and 7% for a two zone single, to 11% for a two zone return journey. Day tickets and season tickets are increasing by between 7% and 12%. Fares increases that are so high that passenger numbers by so much that the bus company ends up worse off are not clever. But with motorists costs rising steeply too, I’d describe these fares increases as predictable, rather than deplorable.