Politician warns that bus fare increases are just another 'stealth tax'
Liberty Bus increased some prices on 1 March, which encouraged people to purchase travel cards
Company says that new pricing structure makes travel cheaper for students and frequent travellers
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BUS fare increases imposed in March are a 'stealth tax on bus users' and should be reviewed, says Deputy Geoff Southern.
PAYG Fare Band A:
PAYG fare band A increased by 10p. This means that the PAYG Fare Band A will change from £1.20 to £1.30.
PAYG Fare Band B:
PAYG fare band B was reduced by 10p. This means that the PAYG Fare Band B will reduce from £1.70 down to £1.60.
The St Helier Deputy has this week lodged a proposition calling for Transport Minister Eddie Noel to review the fares and renegotiate the States' agreement with bus company CT Plus, which runs Liberty Bus.
The Deputy argues that fare increases imposed from 1 March are 'much greater' than the Retail Price Index, thereby breaching States inflation policy to limit increases in States charges to a maximum of 2.5% a year.
He also claims that by allowing the fare increases to outstrip inflation, the Transport Minister is in breach of the Motor Traffic Law 'to protect and further' the interests of bus users.
In particular, passengers paying for their fares in cash have seen prices rise significantly higher since March because the bus company is trying to promote the use of the Avanchi card. But Deputy Southern says this is unfair because over half (56%) of passengers last year paid in cash.
For cash payers, increases for band A and B have gone up by 15% and 11% respectively (to £1.50 and £2), with a child's fare increasing by 25%, to £1.
In contrast, fares paid using the Avanchi Unlimited card have been reduced by 23% for weekly cards and by 8% for monthly and annual cards.
According to the seven-year contract with CT Plus, income from fares goes directly to the operator, with the States receiving 50% of any operating profit in excess of 3% of turnover.
Last month Deputy Noel announced his intentions to bring a proposal to the States to increase the price of parking 'way above inflation' in an effort to force Islanders onto public transport to meet targets set out in the Sustainable Transport Policy in 2010.
ALL bus fares should be reduced regardless of the method of payment, according to St Helier Constable Simon Crowcroft.
During question time in the States in February, Deputy Geoff Southern asked Transport Minister Eddie Noel to give Members details of the number of people using buses, including the number of Islanders using pre-paid cards rather than cash.
The question came after it was announced that bus fares were to rise by 20p for cash-paying customers to encourage more people to use the top-up card system, which Deputy Noel believes is a more 'convenient' way of paying to travel.
He said that more than half of Islanders using the bus service last year paid by cash, 36 per cent used pre-paid cards and eight per cent have AvanchiCard Unlimited cards.
But Mr Crowcroft said that he believed fares should be reduced overall in order to encourage people to move away from using cars.
However, Deputy Noel said that the purpose of the increase was to change people's behaviour and steer them away from using cash to pay for their bus journey and use the card system instead.