Fife bus fares: MSP calls on Stagecoach to re-think 15% hike in ticket prices

A Fife MSP has called on Stagecoach to re-think its plans to increase fares by an average of 15%.
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The massive hike comes into effect next month on all bus services operated by Stagecoach East Scotland.

The company says it is necessary as it faces rising operating costs, and argued that its fares still offered value for money.

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Now Green MSP, Mark Ruskell, has written to Stagecoach calling on it to reverse its decision, and to come up with a more proportionate response that doesn’t leave passengers out of pocket.

Stagecoach fares will rise next monthStagecoach fares will rise next month
Stagecoach fares will rise next month

He said: “A fare increase of 15% for people in Fife is just not acceptable. Whilst we can appreciate the challenges faced by Stagecoach and other bus operators, it cannot be right for private companies to buffer their profits with increased passenger fares. Right now, we need to be doing all we can to encourage folks back onto bus – and hiking fares is not the way to do it.“Communities across Scotland deserve better buses. We need wholesale reform of the way buses are run – from fare regulation to increased municipalisation – to prevent situations like this from happening again.”

Stagecoach said it understood cost of living pressures facing its customers.

Douglas Robertson, managing director of Stagecoach East Scotland said, “We realise that fare increases are not welcome. However, we strongly believe our fares still represent good value for money.”

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Stagecoach has encountered several challenges including the pandemic, an industry-wide recruitment shortages, and rising costs. The cost-of-living crisis has also impacted businesses, and there have been significant increases to its three largest costs – wages, fuel, and engineering parts.

Announcing the price hike, the company added: “With bus passenger numbers still needing to return to the pre-pandemic level, it is vital that as a commercial bus operator, Stagecoach makes decisions that will future-proof the viability of its network.

The emergency funding provided by the Scottish Government to ensure a level of bus service for people to access local amenities, which would not otherwise have been commercially sustainable, has been reduced over the past 12 months, and, from March 31, will be withdrawn altogether.