Bus passengers in the North-east have been hit by a rise in fares introduced by Stagecoach.
The company have blamed rising costs and a 32% Government hike in fuel tax on buses for forcing up fares from Monday of next week.
Fares in the area will rise by an average of 4% from Monday (April 9).
However, despite facing rising costs in many areas, Stagecoach says it has done its best to minimise the impact on its customers and ensure that it continues to offer an affordable alternative to commuting by car.
An independent survey last year found that Stagecoach offers the best value bus fares of any major bus operator in the UK, with prices up to 20% lower than other companies.
However, Stagecoach said last week that the UK Government’s planned 3p fuel duty rise, combined with the Scottish Government’s changes to the Bus Service Operators Grant from April 1, would increase fuel tax on its bus passengers in Scotland by 32%, sucking more than £365k out of the local Stagecoach bus network in the North-east. In contrast, trains pay virtually no tax on their fuel and planes pay none at all.
The Scottish Government has also capped the budget it uses to fund the free concessionary bus travel passengers scheme, putting pressure on fares and bus networks for all bus users in Scotland.
Andrew Jarvis, Managing Director of Stagecoach Bluebird said: “These damaging Government tax hikes, combined with rising costs, are having a direct impact on bus fares and services across Scotland.
“We share the frustration of our passengers, many of whom are on some of the lowest incomes. Along with businesses, they are already being squeezed by higher bills and energy prices. We have had to make some very tough decisions and have worked hard to keep fares down for those who rely on the bus the most during this annual increase.”
From Monday, fares and tickets will be revised across the Stagecoach Bluebird network, including nightbird services. This will affect the calculations used for child fares, student fares, commuter cards and day/period returns.