Local bus prices are set to rise

Rising costs and a 32% Government hike in fuel tax on buses has forced up fares for passengers, Stagecoach have confirmed.

Fares across Dundee and Angus will rise by an average of 4% from April 16. However, despite facing rising costs in many areas, Stagecoach 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.

The rises compare with a 14 per cent rise in the annual cost of motoring reported by the RAC in November 2011.

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 per cent lower than other companies.

However, Stagecoach said today 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 per cent, In contrast, trains pay virtually no tax on their fuel and planes pay none at all.

Bus operators across Scotland have also faced rising costs in other areas including increased labour, energy and insurance costs.

The annual Cost Index, compiled by the Confederation of Passenger Transport before the fuel tax changes, shows operating costs in the 12 months to December 31, 2011 have already risen by 7.8 per cent.

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.

Charlie Mullen, Managing Director of Stagecoach East Scotland 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 take some very tough decisions, but we have worked hard to keep fares down for those who rely on the bus the most.

“Our bus services continue to offer a greener, smarter and better value way to travel and we will also continue to re-invest the income from fares in improvements for passengers.”