I too was surprised to find that the fare on a First bus from Shiregreen to Town had risen from £1.70 to £2.
Had it been 10p I might not have raised an eyebrow, but it was the apologetic way the driver was serving passengers that drew my attention to it.
It seemed that virtually no one had an idea that the price had risen.
Those who remember the Thatcher era will know that public transport was removed and became privatised. The idea was that competition among private companies would drive down fares as companies vied for passengers.
The Tory government of that time was all about things being market-driven.
That’s the same as the current Tory government. Every time the idea of privatising the railways comes up, the Tories say they are happy to go with the market. They say it keeps fares down. It’s a bit like supermarkets cutting petrol prices to draw in customers from petrol stations who charge more.
I didn’t know, until I read an article in Tuesday’s Star about the bus fare rise, that there is a price promise agreement, which means that if one of our bus companies puts up its prices, then the other one can too.
That’s what happened this week. How then can it be market driven? The market- driven idea is that a company reduces its prices to win passengers from those charging more, not hiking its prices to match the other company.
Having no idea what a price promise agreement was I looked it up, and found this on the First website.
“Following feedback from customers, Price Promise was introduced in October 2016, which means that adult and student customers travelling in Sheffield, will not be able to travel cheaper on any other operator for the same journey.”
It seems like an internal agreement by First, that says that if Stagecoach or any other company cut their prices then First will match them.
How often do you hear of bus companies cutting their ticket prices? The meat of the agreement seems to be that if prices go up, then First are going to hike theirs too.
It seems, in the real world not in the fantasy world of reduced fares, like a bit of a one-way thing to me.
Presumably Stagecoach don’t want to lose customers to First who are offering lower fares, and First don’t want to be charging lower fares when they can hike theirs and bring in more revenue.
Both companies then make more money from fares, and the passengers get hammered again.
Why not go the whole hog, and let Stagecoach put their prices up by £5 per journey, and then First can match it?
Sounds like a nice little earner, unless you rely on public transport for getting to work or going shopping.