STAR’S OPINION: A fare move after bus cuts chaos?

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Imagine going to your favourite restaurant. For years, it’s always been pretty dependable, until one day you come in to find the menu and opening hours changed and the recipes taste different. And then prices go up.

You might decide not to put up with it any longer and find somewhere else to eat.

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Some Sheffield bus fares increasing in wake of cuts anger

But with Sheffield bus services, many users rely on services for work and socialising and had no choice but to struggle through the cuts.

We’re all familiar with the picture: chaotic changes which caused misery for commuters across the city.

Complaints increased in the weeks after the changes to routes and timetables across Sheffield in November. After more than 12,000 people signed a petition, the changes were debated in Sheffield Council’s chambers, and services were continually messed with into 2016.

In January, we reported that bus users were beginning to see improvements.

The result of all this disruption? A saving of £320,000 for South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive.

Now, fresh from the chaos, and after savings, First Bus is putting some of its prices up.

The firm points to fare changes such as £1.80 going to £2 and £2.30 to £2.50 as being for the sake of convenience, because round numbers will be easier for change (because we know how much bus drivers love giving change).

Other fares, the firm points out, are being held or reduced - some £1.80 fares will become £1.50, and £1.20 will be £1.

But the firm has also pointed to increased costs as reason for rises, including a 50p increase on the cost of a Sheffield weekly ticket.

Of course balancing the books can never be easy - for example back in 2015 drivers threatened to strike over a zero per cent pay offer.

Then again, diesel was at more than £1.40 a litre two years ago but has dropped steadily since, recently going under the £1 mark, and it’s not like bus fares went down to reflect lower costs.

Passengers are not unreasonable. Inflation is real and price increases are a sad reality of modern life - just look at the housing market.

But what may sting those affected by increases is that they have to pay more after months of long queues, missed buses and absent services and for services that, even when running better, represent a cut against what they were.

Paying more for less never feels fair and there is little doubt bus users disappointed with the changes will make their voices heard once more.