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Transport bosses’ anger at fares rise

Reporter: ALAN SALTER
Date online: 05 April 2011

FURIOUS transport chiefs are threatening to tear up their voluntary agreements with bus operators and use the law to control fares after a round of shock increases this week.

It would mean invoking the Transport Act to force quality contracts on the operators and give councillors the power to fix fares and timetables.

The first meeting of Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) was marred by anger at local bus companies — in particular Oldham-based First — which put up fares this week at the same time as the authority’s concessionary fares moved from 80p to half the commercial price.

Last week, the Chronicle revealed that First Manchester managing director Richard Soper had written to every member of the committee — the new name for Greater Manchester Integrated Transport Authority — blaming the concessionary decision for the need to put up fares for every passenger. Stagecoach and Arriva followed suit.

Although the idea of quality contracts was introduced in the Transport Act of 2000 and made easier to introduce in 2008, no area in the country has so far used the legislation.

But transport authorities in the North-East and West and South Yorkshire began the process this year.

TfGM chief executive David Leather was today meeting Mr Soper’s boss, First Group chief executive Tim O’Toole, to protest at the rise after a unanimous motion was passed to demand that Mr Soper takes back his claim that the concessionary scheme is responsible for the fare rise.

Chairman Councillor Keith Whitmore said: “This has come on the back of a difficult decision we had to make. We understood we had a partnership way of working with the operators.

“They are getting large sums of money from the Government. What happened last week has now put that way of working at risk.”

Oldham’s deputy mayor, Councillor Richard Knowles, who will be TfGM vice-chairman in charge of capital projects and policy, said: “Partnerships only work if the bus companies are as committed as the transport authority.

“We have had the power to impose contracts since 2000. We have held back but this has really been a snub.”

The authority is to redouble its publicity drive about the new system after councillors received hundreds of complaints from parents.

TfGM claims that no child needs to pay more than 85p to travel to school despite the scrapping of the 80p flat fare.

First’s weekly ticket is the most expensive at £8.50 and Stagecoach offers an even cheaper weekly pass at £5.75.

Mr Soper could not be contacted at First Manchester’s headquarters in Walshaw Street, Oldham.

Comments

They want people to use public transport but with the prices they charge its ridiculous there is no need to charge as much as they do.First Manchester as got oldham fully covered there is no competition from any other bus company. £8.50 for a weekly what a rip, When stagecoach can charge £5.75 and have the same overheads. They need to be investigated into why they charge so much. Give it 6 months they will sneak them up again it makes me sick..

This will not happen plenty of rhetoric until after the local Elections and then silence.

what can they possibly do? pull the bus companies contracts?

what then? no buses?

So, my child's daily fare has gone from 80p to £1 per trip (£1.50 if he travels to his grandparents after school as I cannot pick him up) and we are now blackmailed into spending £5 on an igo pass to prove he is under 16...petrol has increased, utlility bills have increased, vat has increased and my salary has reduced.

I have a shirt left if anybody would like it?

Could the people of Limehurst village have a bus service that actually runs! we have a 183 from the bottom end of Lime green road which starts at 7.03 in the morning then it disappears till 9.03 and finishes at 2.30pm. Brinnington in Stockport has a circular which runs every 10 mins from 6am-11.30pm. why can't we have a service like that, we have the 76 yes but only until 6.00pm when it becomes the hourly 78. we pay enough for the buses and they want us to use them, how when they're not there!

 

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