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23 Mar 2015
Stagecoach confirmed today that bus fares in the North of Scotland are to rise by an average of 2.5% from Sunday 5th April, reflecting rising costs, cuts in the public sector purse and investment in new buses.
The changes mean that weekly unlimited local travel from Stagecoach, which has the lowest bus fares of any major operator in the UK, will be priced from £10.75.
Weekly megarider tickets in Banffshire, Moray, Buchan, Caithness, Fort William, Skye and Orkney have been frozen and will not be affected by the fares revision on 5th April.
The fares increase, which follows an annual review, is broadly in line with increasing staff costs resulting from growth in the economy.
Bus operator costs across Scotland are rising faster than the income generated from people using the bus. There has been a real-terms cut to the reimbursement paid to bus operators under the Scottish Government's free concessionary bus travel scheme.
Money from fares is used to invest in more modern, greener vehicles, smart-ticketing and improved services. Stagecoach announced recently that it is investing £80million in new vehicles for its bus and coach operations in the UK and mainland Europe.
Recent research* also shows that travelling by Stagecoach remains significantly cheaper than commuting by car, with bus users saving an average of £100 a month in comparison with motorists.
Steve Walker, Managing Director of Stagecoach North Scotland, said: "Many sectors of the economy are facing rising costs and buses are no different. Prices are also being affected by the continued squeeze on public sector spending on buses.
"We have done our best to hold down prices for our customers. We still have the lowest bus fares of any major bus operator in Britain and catching the bus is still significantly cheaper than commuting by car.
“We are continuing to use the money we get from fares to reinvest in greener buses, smart ticketing and other improvements to services, as well as taking care of our employees who deliver these vital bus service in our communities."
Bus fares: your questions answered
What is the cost of bus travel in North Scotland?
Stagecoach's megarider offers unlimited travel from £10.75 per week – that’s £1.54 per day. Megarider tickets are our most popular ticket used by the biggest proportion of passengers. We also offer other good value ticket options, ranging from single trips to annual travel.
How are bus fares decided?
Running costs, the number of people using bus services, investment in services and the level of public spending and taxes all affect bus fares. The biggest cost is employee wages, which account for around two thirds of total costs. Other factors are energy and fuel costs, insurance and pensions. Issues such as road congestion and cuts to public spending also affect ticket prices and the viability of bus routes.
Should bus fares not be falling due to lower pump prices?
Like other transport companies, we fix the price of our fuel in advance to protect customers from the regular ups and downs in the price of oil and provide greater certainty in financial planning which is essential for any business. Fuel accounts for only 11% of our total operating costs and cost increases elsewhere are rising faster than the income we get from people catching the bus.
How do bus fares compare with taking the car?
A recent study by Stagecoach found that bus users save an average of £100 per month by leaving their car in the driveway*. The study looked at just fuel and parking costs and did not include the significant costs of buying or leasing a car. An RAC report in 2014 also found that 80% of motorists said they had noticed that parking has become more expensive in the high street or town centre**.
How do Stagecoach fares compare with other bus companies?
Stagecoach has three times been independently assessed as offering the lowest fares of any major bus operator in the UK. The research was carried out by independent transport consultants TAS in 2009, 2011 and 2013. The latest study found weekly bus travel with Stagecoach was on average 12% lower than the next cheapest operator, and weekly bus travel with Stagecoach was 50% less than in London.
What is the money from fares spent on?
As well as covering the costs of running services, money from fares is spent on new greener and more accessible buses and other improvements for customers, such as smart ticketing technology.
Where can I find more information about bus services in my area?
More information is available at www.stagecoachbus.com
*Based on an average saving calculated across 36 commuter routes in the UK. Individual savings will vary. Fuel prices recorded between 13-16 January 2015. Monthly and annual savings calculated on Weekly Megarider purchases over 46 weeks of the year. A full copy of the Stagecoach survey results can be found here - http://www.stagecoach.com/~/media/Files/S/Stagecoach-Group/Attachments/pdf/fuel-price-calculator.pdf
**2014 RAC Motoring survey