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First Eastern Counties announces a shake-up of bus fares for 2015

PUBLISHED: 09:51 01 January 2015 | UPDATED: 09:51 01 January 2015

First Eastern Counties brand new Micro-hybrid Streetlite buses.
Picture by SIMON FINLAY.

First Eastern Counties brand new Micro-hybrid Streetlite buses. Picture by SIMON FINLAY.

We asked commercial director Steve Wickers how changes, which come into force on January 4, will affect customers in Norfolk and Suffolk

Company hopes to make buses the preferred choice of transport

First Eastern Counties has announced changes to its bus fares in Norfolk and Suffolk, which will take effect on Sunday.

A significant number of fares are being frozen at their current levels, with some increases and a number of fares being reduced

A number of new tickets will be introduced across the region following requests from passengers and bosses say those using the X1 service between Peterborough and Dereham will be able to benefit from better value fares, as a new western zone is being introduced.

The range of on-bus monthly tickets will also be changed to include the western and YarLow zones.

David Squire, managing director for First Eastern Counties, said: “These changes aim to reward passengers who regularly travel with us.

“We have kept any fare increases to an absolute minimum as we are committed to making bus the preferred travel option.

“While some passengers may experience an increase in fares, we have tried to limit this as much as possible and keep any rises in line with inflation.”

Full details of the new fares will be available on www.firstgroup.com/ukbus/suffolk_norfolk. For more information call customer services on 08456 020 121 (Mon-Fri 7.30am to 5.30pm).

What was the process to decide what the new 2015 bus fares would be?

“Whenever we review our fares we are always mindful of the impact that the changes will have on our customers. “With these changes we wanted to, where possible, reduce the price of the ticket types that our regular passengers use, rewarding those who have committed to travelling with us and encouraging occasional and new passengers to switch to using public transport on a longer term basis.”

Some fares have gone up. Why is this, and how did you decide which fares to increase?

“We have tried to keep the increases as low as possible, but at the same time making sure that there are more cost effective options for customers looking to travel regularly. The fares that have risen have also tended to be ones that we didn’t increase at our last review, 12 months ago, again trying to limit the effect these changes could have on our customers.”

• Click here to view some examples of fare changes

While some longer multi-journey ticket prices have been reduced, others over a shorter period have increased. What is the thinking behind this?

“There have been some 
changes to shorter period tickets such as the day tickets, but most of these have been either frozen or reduced. Where prices have increased though, these are generally fares which have not risen for 24 months.”

Why have new fare zones been created, for example for the X1?

“Following customer feedback we are pleased to introduce the new Western Network ticket that will give customers travelling on the X1 between Peterborough and Dereham new, better value ticket options to choose from. “The new ticket will be more suited to those travellers’ needs and they will benefit from significant savings compared to the only existing network ticket options.”

Fuel prices have fallen recently. Will this result in cheaper bus fares?

“Unfortunately, no. While we acknowledge that fuel prices are falling at the pumps, fuel is only a small part of our overall cost. This, coupled with the fact that we do not purchase fuel direct from the forecourt, means that we do not benefit from such changes. Other costs, such as drivers’ wages, insurance and engineering, all contribute to an increase in operating costs.

“Wherever possible we look to new ways of working and continue to challenge ourselves in respect of cost efficiencies. Our review has been kept to an absolute minimum and we are very proud to reduce many fares.”

Will the new fares offer passengers better value overall?

“Definitely. Our existing customers can benefit from the reduced fares, which we hope will also attract new customers. With reductions in Weekly, 10 Trip and most longer term tickets, the cost of using our services for regular and occasional travellers is a very good incentive for people to consider using public transport. We are committed to making the bus the preferred travel option for those living in, and visiting, Norfolk and Suffolk.”

What do you think? Write, with your full contact details, to edpletters@archant.co.uk

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