Bus fare rises on city routes down to fuel cost

Bus Fare increases'Route 52
Bus Fare increases'Route 52
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BUS passengers on two popular Sheffield routes are facing price rises as fares go up this weekend - increases forced by soaring fuel costs, operators say.

First has announced day and weekly fares will go up from this Sunday on the Optio routes - introduced last year so people can ride either First or Stagecoach buses.

It said a combination of factors, including the 3p per litre fuel duty increase from August confirmed in yesterday’s Budget, were behind the decision - but insisted fares were still ‘good value for money’.

The routes affected are the red 52 service from Hillsborough to Handsworth, and the orange services 42, 44, 49 and 120 from Halfway or Crystal Peaks to Fulwood.

Day tickets are to go up from £3 to £3.20, and weekly tickets from £9 to £10 - these are the first rises since 2008.

Single fares priced up to £1.40 are not affected.

Passenger Caroline Price, 56, of Lodge Moor, was catching the 120 on High Street yesterday.

She said: “I think the bus tickets are quite pricey. I have never had any problems but it has gone up over time.”

Craig O’Reilly, 21, of Manor, was waiting for the same service.

He said: “It is crazy because it is so expensive. My girlfriend uses buses quite a lot.

“When you are unemployed and they expect you to get to appointments it can be a bit too much to pay.”

Alison Gurr, a fan of The Star on Facebook, said: “I rely on the 52 service to get back from work and fares have only just gone up 10p recently.”

But 52 passenger Adele Nash, of Crookes, said: “I don’t often get the bus to be honest, but when I do I think it is still good value.”

First said Optio fares on the two affected routes did not change in its recent January fare revisions and insisted travel ‘still represented good value for money’.

A combination of the fuel duty rise from August, increases in oil costs and a 20 per cent reduction in bus service operator grants - where operators can claim part of their fuel costs - had led to the decision being made.

Together they mean fuel costs will jump by around 30 per cent this year, said First.

The operator said it would recover only about 27 per cent of that amount, even with fare rises made earlier this year.

Simon Pearson, revenue and customer services development director, said: “We appreciate nobody likes it when prices go up.

“But we have worked hard to keep any increases to a minimum by introducing savings within our business to off-set cost increases.

“Despite some of these price changes, the cost of travel on the Optio routes still represents value for money.”

The Optio tickets were introduced in Sheffield last year as a partnership between bus operators to make travel simpler for passengers.