Stagecoach this week have confirmed that bus fares in the North of Scotland are to rise by an average of 2.5% from Sunday 5th April, reflecting rising costs, cuts in the public sector purse and investment in new buses.
The fares increase, which follows an annual review, is broadly in line with increasing staff costs resulting from growth in the economy.
The changes mean that weekly unlimited local travel from Stagecoach, which has the lowest bus fares of any major operator in the UK, will be priced from £10.75.
Weekly megarider tickets in Banffshire, Moray, Buchan, Caithness, Fort William, Skye and Orkney have been frozen and will not be affected by the fares revision on 5th April.
Bus operator costs across Scotland are rising faster than the income generated from people using the bus. There has been a real-terms cut to the reimbursement paid to bus operators under the Scottish Government’s free concessionary bus travel scheme.
Money from fares is used to invest in more modern, greener vehicles, smart-ticketing and improved services.
Stagecoach announced recently that it is investing £80million in new vehicles for its bus and coach operations in the UK and mainland Europe.
Steve Walker, Managing Director of Stagecoach North Scotland, said: “Many sectors of the economy are facing rising costs and buses are no different. Prices are also being affected by the continued squeeze on public sector spending on buses.
“We have done our best to hold down prices for our customers. We still have the lowest bus fares of any major bus operator in Britain and catching the bus is still significantly cheaper than commuting by car.
“We are continuing to use the money we get from fares to reinvest in greener buses, smart ticketing and other improvements to services, as well as taking care of our employees who deliver these vital bus service in our communities.”
Bus fares are decided by taking into account running costs, the number of people using bus services, investment in services and the level of public spending and taxes all affect bus fares.
The biggest cost is employee wages, which account for around two thirds of total costs.
Other factors are energy and fuel costs, insurance and pensions.
Issues such as road congestion and cuts to public spending also affect ticket prices and the viability of bus route across the country.