Leeds West MP Rachel Reeves has criticised the decision by First Bus to hike most of its fares in West Yorkshire this weekend.
From today, typical single fares are due to rise by an average of 20 pence. In Leeds, that means a rise from £1.30 to £1.40 – an increase of 15% and nine times the rate of inflation.
Daily tickets bought on buses in Leeds tickets in Leeds will rise to £4.70 from £4.50 and weekly tickets to £18 from £17.
Ms Reeves says at a particular disadvantage will be people who do not use smartphones –the cost of their travel will rise more than those who use First’s smartphone app.
In response, Ms Reeves has written to Paul Matthews, Managing Director at First West Yorkshire, to demand an immediate rethink of the fare rises.
In her letter, Ms Reeves said:
“These increases are a slap in the face for West Yorkshire’s long-suffering bus users who already endure frequently unreliable and delayed bus services to get around Leeds.
“First Bus’s proposed fare changes put older and low-income travellers – the people most reliant on bus services – at a clear disadvantage because fare rises will be higher for customers who buy their tickets on the bus instead of using a smartphone app.
“That is unfair and clearly discriminates against certain users, effectively adding extra costs to their travel.”
West Leeds bus users have also criticised the move.
Sharon Baldwin of Farnley said:
“The prices get higher put the service gets worse. We’ve had public meetings and everything about the unreliability of the number 42 bus route. Nothing ever seems to get better.”
Mark Smith of Pudsey added:
“Pudsey’s bus services have been a shambles for years. And then they wonder why people drive.”
But Armley’s Alan Barker partially defended the rise. He added:
“It’s not fair for people to blame the bus companies for being late for traffic congestion – and then they drive into work, adding to the congestion, First don’t help themselves though.”
First Bus is encouraging commuters to switch to paperless tickets, offering cheaper prices on the First Bus ticket app.
UPDATE OCTOBER 28: This article was amended to clarify that typical fares have risen from £1.30 to £1.40, not £1.50 as originally published.