BUS Fare Increase
BUG - Bus Users Group
Bus Fare Increase: BUG sees double-speak at Environment
The Bus Users Group responded to the proposals for a 67% hike in bus fares this morning as follows:
"We have some sympathy for the increases. Guernsey bus fares are indeed very low. So, although we love the fares the way they are (as our on-line survey showed in January), in principle we are ready to be flexible. We are also glad that the Ormer Card is to keep it's big discount for frequent travellers.
However, unfortunately, there is a trace of muddle about the way Environment is talking.
The evidence of the challenge is around us daily. Town's car parks are crowded out by office workers who are either forced into early-morning camp-outs, or mid-morning clock-fiddling. Commuters along the eastern sea-front suffer lengthy jams.
The sensible course of action would be to match the bus fare increase with
- an honest attempt to avoid more cars coming into town as a consequence
- a bus schedule which is more friendly to office workers.
The Environment Department, like politicians around the world, have started to "tell it like it is". However, the truth seems to be coming out incomplete. To say that a 67% fares hike will "not compromise the policies of the Road Transport Policy", or that buses only benefit bus users, not other tax payers, is creeping double-speak.
- Higher fares, announced in isolation, will tend to push people off buses and into cars, whether or not an economist would argue that bus demand is "price-inelastic".
- The buses benefit all taxpayers, not just bus users. The benefits are felt by many people who may never dream of getting on a bus, for example
- businessmen whose deliveries arrive on time
- active drivers whose elderly and teenage relatives are less dependent on them
- car commuters whose jams are shorter than they would be if everyone else used a car too.
BUG urges bus users to take full advantage of the two week consultation period and air some home truths about bus economics. Tell us what you think at www.bug.gg. Better still tell the Environment Department at env.gov.gg, and also your States Deputies.
However, let's not be antagonistic about this. The fare rise is acceptable as part of a roll-out of the existing, agreed Road Transport Plan. If we keep up the dialogue, possibly today's announcement from Environment will even bring that about.
The alternative, a disjointed approach, would only speed the day when we may lose the buses altogether."
Contact: Bus Users Group - Coordinator - Fergus
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Further Information:» [25/06/10] BBC News, Guernsey - "Guernsey bus fares could increase"
» [26/06/10] This is Guernsey - 67% fares hike 'will drive people away from the buses'
» [06/07/10] Results from our Online Survey about the price hikes