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Friday, 31 October 2014

Bus firm must be hit where it hurts

SOME days ago when I was returning from the Far East (of Barrow) on a very large bus, I was pursued around the seats every minute by a lady.

EM Darren McSweeney
Darren McSweeney

She showed me some photographs of her daughter – a pleasant-looking girl and seemed convinced that she was destined for a great career, if only she could get to school!

Finally, in sheer self-preservation, I locked myself in my house and wrote this song:

Don’t Put Your Daughter On The Stagecoach (Bus) Mrs Worthington, don’t put your daughter on the Stagecoach!

With a tip of my hat to Noel Coward, I offer this sound advice for any parents in this area who rely on public transport to get their children to school.

With little warning, the bus company recently made a decision to scrap the “child megarider” ticket, forcing parents to pay the full adult fare for their children, to safely convey them to their place of study. Now this is no small increase – a hike in cost to the parent from £20 to £30 a month. Those parents with two children have to now find £60 a month, similarly those blessed (?) with three or more children will be pushed to the brink. No wonder we read the Jones family and their 12 children have fled to Australia – maybe they saw this coming!

They say that hell hath no fury like a parent robbed of what little cash they have (or something like that). So it was with some trepidation that I joined a group of parents in the town hall for a meeting with John Woodcock MP (still in my good books, you’re getting good at this John), county councillors and a representative from Stagecoach. I have to say I was somewhat surprised – I expected an army of placard waving, irate, shouting parents – I couldn’t have been further from the truth.

It was a pleasure to meet such a well organised group, who had clearly done their homework and conducted themselves in a professional way that the ornate walls of the council chambers probably seldom see.

Stagecoach had already had a PR nightmare, they publicised the 50 per cent hike during the school holidays, so parents were unaware. The meeting at the town hall only made this PR faux pas even worse – due to a “diary clash” they were unable to attend. For a company once rated the “most ethical” of the UK’s “big five” transport groups, this whole matter seems to be a departure of the kind they are not normally associated with.

While it is easy to point to the reduction of government subsidies hitting the bottom line of public transport companies, when your half year results show an operating profit of £106m it becomes a little difficult to swallow a 50 per cent fare rise.

I would suggest parents look to car pools and other ideas – hit this company where it hurts until they reverse this decision. Don’t put your children on the Stagecoach!

Have your say

Just some thoughts on statements made by Stagecoach:

'How many other organisations give notice of a change to price?' - Stagecoach Cumbria is not 'any other organisation', but one that recieves massive subsidies from the council tax payers of the county (us).

'£1 per day for unlimited travel, generating a maximum income per day of at £78 for a double deck bus. This was not financially sustainable'. This is misleading in the extreme, as the reality is that most school children are in school all day and make only 2 journeys, to school and back to home. The buses are full on these journeys, making them green and sustainable. The rest of the day they are available for full fare paying passangers.

All is not perfect, but don't hit children, who have historically and rightly, as non wage earners, always been given concessionary fares.

Posted by 'The owner of Stagecoach lives in a castle' on 13 May 2012 at 16:29

"Bus firm must be hit where it hurts" Yea, But dont Expect any help from this Council or from the Evening Mail? We dont want to rock the boat do we ? Credibility has left the building, I suppose this wont get past the moderator Either ?

Posted by Wally ! on 11 May 2012 at 17:01

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