03 October 2010


A bus driver writes...

Driving the late shift at work on Friday, a number of people forced upon me their view of the fare they were charged for a one-way trip into the nearest city centre on my bus. I did 4 round trips on the route in question and the distance in each direction is 16 miles. The single fare is £2.80.

The end-to-end journey time is 40 minutes, resulting in an average speed of 24mph. I think this is reasonably fast for a village-small town-village-city centre route, which is very linear, too. Some of the passengers felt the same way as well. A number on the first and second trips asked for singles to the city centre and had a handful of coins ready for their fare. Noticeable was the number who commented on how reasonable £2.80 was.

On the final two trips this had been replaced by how expensive "nearly three bloody quid!" was for the same journey. These people didn't appear intoxicated, though were clearly hoping to become so in the city they were travelling to. I don't usually argue with them as often they want to evoke a response from the driver. But when I sense a reply from me will be taken on board, I liken the trip they're about to undertake to that provided by a taxi.

A group of 4 travelling 16 miles in a taxi at 10pm on a Friday night can expect to be charged around £40. Or a tenner each. I would assume they would return from the city centre by taxi as we do not run past 11pm and everyone purchased singles. So £2.80 single seemed expensive while £10 to return was presumably not be commented on.

LEYTR Comment: It's the old, old story. One man's good value is another's extortion. Our contributing writer also emailed that, worryingly, those believing £2.80 for 40 mins on a bus, covering 16 miles at an average speed of 24mph, were infrequent users. These are the ones bus operators target in the hope of modal shift. Perhaps the fare is expensive? We don't think so. Admittedly, it's not 99p, as a certain bus company is trialing, but what would the cost of an equivalent journey by private car - especially when the add-ons such as parking are included? It cost £63.12 to fill the LEYTR Wagon up with diesel last night. There are some people who will justify their car because the bus is too expensive, or begrudge using it when there's no alternative. But how many would happily hand over £5 to gain entry to a club or £2.80 for a double Vodka and coke in Flares? I bet they don't moan to the bar worker or doorman!

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