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

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

23 comments

  • 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.” With the X2 monthly ticket, which were £60 for adults and £42 for young people, now being done away with, and replaced with the YarLow monthly at £70 for adults and £49 for young people this is a very incorrect statement by David Squire. Why should regular customers that used this X2 monthly fare see an increase at once of 16.7%?! If they are to pay the same as the X1 passengers then surely they should be supplied with equal standard buses as the X1 route, with free WiFi also? And why should they be made to purchase a YarLow ticket when they only travel on the Lowestoft to Norwich route? How can First Buses take away an entire fare and thus force their regular customers on this route to pay an increase of 16.7%??!!

    Report this comment

    MEA

    Monday, January 5, 2015

  • Why would councils want to invest in public transport that is run by the private sector ? Whatever happened to Mrs T's beloved 'free market' economy ? It is not the role of the public sector to subsidise the profits of wealthy private investors, although the actions of David Cameron's Govt, for example over NHS privatisation, might lead people to think this is the norm. LOL

    Report this comment

    Mr Cameron Spork-Pies

    Friday, January 2, 2015

  • Lionel: do you know how much it costs to run your car? The REAL cost, not just fuel. Is it very much under £1 per mile?

    Report this comment

    Patrick

    Thursday, January 1, 2015

  • .....The City Council should enquire if Aldi or Lydl would be interested running the buses!.....

    Report this comment

    Stew Pydsodd

    Thursday, January 1, 2015

  • This reminds me to get my old age free pass or whatever it is called as I can go to Norwich for free then. Hate using the motoras parking is not cheap after paying for fuel. Free ticket almost anytime looks good.

    Report this comment

    JEN

    Thursday, January 1, 2015

  • It could get worse yet, first are rumoured to be taking over the park and ride sites.

    Report this comment

    gerry mitson

    Thursday, January 1, 2015

  • For public transport in a city like Norwich to work, and even in the towns, passengers have to be able to get into the city and then out to wherever their workplace is on business park or industrial estate or whatever-in time for work, without too long a walk from the bus stop, and have a bus to get them home in the evening. Not just a matter of getting into the city centre. This , as far as I can see, is not happening especially well in the region.

    Report this comment

    Daisy Roots

    Thursday, January 1, 2015

  • norwich city council can continue putting buses over cars but the public will continue to use there cars !!!! i need a car for work so already have forked out on car , insurance , road tax , so why would i pay £2.50 per person one way from colman rd to st stephens !! the only poeple who use buses on a regular basis get some kind of discount . the only way people will use buses on a reguler basis is too bring the price down for a ticket or the government scrap road tax and put it on petrol ( then the more you use your car more you pay in tax -- so simple

    Report this comment

    Norwich

    Thursday, January 1, 2015

  • The urban zone fares in GYB are certainly very high and last time I looked the fares for the northern rural zone around Yarmouth ie Martham Hemsby etc -villages which are served by James Paget, East Norfolk Sixth Form, the FE and the industrial estates -all on the Gorleston side of the river, were equally prohibitive. And other villages which are part of the GY service and economic zone are not served by First Bus. In my opinion there are grave shortcomings of routes, connections and timings and First Bus seem to operate on the principal of running routes which will make them money but with no intention of improving networks or passenger convenience in order to attract additional passengers and improve access to public transport. It is no wonder, with the fares, that we see more people cycling . But the lack of a decent coverage makes getting to work in some places very hard without a car.

    Report this comment

    Daisy Roots

    Thursday, January 1, 2015

  • Gorleston to Great Yarmouth is over £1 per mile buy bus .. Proving bus travel is discouraged by massive high fare charges.. In fact cheaper by mile to fly to Australia .. UK bus fares and rail fares we all know are part of the Rip Off Uk society the media keep reminding us all... Along with house prices and utility bills.. Go on holiday abroad and bus fares are 50% or more cheaper.. Based on their local incomes ... Than first bus UK .. Just how £1 plus per mile charges in Great Yarmouth area can be justified to encourage bus use is crazy ... And little basic logic.. .. How much bread would be sold at .£2.50p a loaf .. A lot less than now... So first bus reduce your Great Yarmouth prices by 50% and and probably get a 50% plus increase in passengers a lot more often.. .. At least give in a try... Meanwhile like thousands of other in Norfolk I will continue to use my car as it is cheaper.. For 4 people .. And door to door .. Over to you first bus ... Are prices going up or down... Greed or need ...?

    Report this comment

    Lionel

    Thursday, January 1, 2015

  • Bus transport CAN be made attractive if Councils are prepared to invest in them. Go and have a look in York. It's not as good as continental bus schemes, but they run "tram" buses. They're a type of articulated bus (not as long as the London bendy bus!!) that looks and rides like a tram, with air conditioning and free wifi, low floors, and in the city centre carry conductors to speed up boarding. I would favour bringing back "Corporation" bus companies run for the good of the locals rather than the whims of the bus companies.

    Report this comment

    Edward Millionaireband

    Thursday, January 1, 2015

  • The bus companies, all of them, should reduce their fares, their arguments does not hold water because they have increased fares exactly because of the rising fuel costs in the past, their very own words. Now they are trying a fast one, pretending that other costs are more relevant whilst green commuters are paying for their shareholders and for new buses, this is a serious situation. I know from two other large fuel consumers that bulk buyers get a discount of about 5%, so their fuel is not only cheaper than at the pump. The prices compared to other Cities are far too high, as itsme already mentioned. In Edinburgh you can get a day ticket for all routes for 3.60, the same equivalent costs 6.- here. By being disingenuous to us green public transport users, bus companies force people into buying cars, a very simple equation, they are promoting extra pollution and congestion by not being flexible and by not admitting that they have used past increases in fuel to raise bus fares. Bus users should not be required to fork out for companies new assets, pay for their regular maintenance or be responsible for their rents. Our fares should be reduced by at least 20%, there is no reason to raise them at all on any route. This is not an annual 'who can get most out of us' game. Real time information as it works well elsewhere, has failed in Norwich and Norfolk, the bus companies are not investing, but they want us to pay higher fares for the same already overpriced service. I'm seriously considering getting a car if this disreputable rise is allowed to happen. Write to your cllr.s and MP's, this should not happen.

    Report this comment

    ingo wagenknecht

    Thursday, January 1, 2015

  • Bus fares in Norwich are still much higher than in other cities e.g. a weekly First bus Norwich ticket is £18 whilst First in Manchester is between £13.50 for the entire conurbation and £7.50 for a smaller area. As there is very little competition on city routes in Norwich, apart from some County operators, First can get away with charging higher tariffs despite getting very significant indirect subsidy in the form of new bus lanes and bus priority in the Norwich area. And there is nothing the customer or councils can do about it.

    Report this comment

    itsme73

    Thursday, January 1, 2015

  • When Fuel prices rise it is major cost when it goes down it is not do you take us for fools. This is the chip stall business plan in action when spuds are more expensive chips go up, when as now price are low they never come down.

    Report this comment

    Melvyn Parkerson

    Thursday, January 1, 2015

  • Rather than showing a picture of brand new buses with the article, why not a picture of the ancient boneshakers they use on Norwich City routes?

    Report this comment

    Norfolk and Good

    Thursday, January 1, 2015

  • I think some people need to read the article in full before commenting, thus avoiding making themselves look stupid with thier comments about falling fuel prices.

    Report this comment

    KeithS

    Thursday, January 1, 2015

  • Ha ha, yes Edward, I think I know the driver you mean. She was very rude to my wife a few months ago. My wife only had a tenner for a £6.30 ticket and she said this driver was extremely rude to her for not having the exact amount available. My wife said that when the driver opened her till it was full of change, so what was the problem. If First Group aren't happy about their customers having the nerve to expect them to provide change, why don't they publish all their fares online (like Norfolk Green do) or provide smart ticketing? Or failing that, employ polite drivers!

    Report this comment

    Norfolk and Good

    Thursday, January 1, 2015

  • I say, with the oil price in free fall these chaps must have raked in huge profits. Are their staff still on a pay freeze ? Good to see they're passing so little on to the customer, can't risk upsetting the investors, what what.

    Report this comment

    Mr Cameron Spork-Pies

    Thursday, January 1, 2015

  • I usually try to I've the driver's the correct money, but don't always have huge amounts of change available. One of the First X1 women drivers at King's Lynn is sooo rude to you if you dare to give her anything but the exact fare. I gave her £10 for a £4.20 fare and she shook her head and tutted at me, then gave me as much loose change as possible. She said sarcastically "Try to bring the exact fare next time". I said "I won't bother, I'll use my car instead"!

    Report this comment

    Edward Millionaireband

    Thursday, January 1, 2015

  • As I'm an occasional user with my family it's now cheaper to get a taxi into the city! Don't know how you can justify these increases.

    Report this comment

    mattc1

    Thursday, January 1, 2015

  • Fuel has come down, so why the increase in fares, the whole fares structure needs a review

    Report this comment

    Derek McDonald

    Thursday, January 1, 2015

  • Will never understand how it costs 2.50 from tuckswood to city centre,which is about 3 stops and the same from tuckswood to wroxham or anywhere else in norwich???

    Report this comment

    foxey

    Thursday, January 1, 2015

  • Petrol down to 99p a litre soon, fares should come down 10%

    Report this comment

    billythebookie

    Thursday, January 1, 2015

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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