There’s a faint aroma in the chilly spring air: could it be the smell of spreadsheets burning as bus operators try to work out what effect the changes to concessionary fares in Greater Manchester will have on their bottom line? Possibly: several operators are revising their fares this week, with the System One range of “any bus” tickets also revised upwards in price. Expect confusion to reign next week despite the best efforts of all involved. We take a closer look.
We reported the changes to concessionary fares when they were approved earlier this year, but in the main:
- Under-16s will travel for half-fare on buses in Greater Manchester instead of 80p
- Senior citizens will have to pay full-fare on buses, trams and trains prior to 0930 on Monday to Fridays
- Most disabled pass holders will have to pay half-fare on buses, trains and trams prior to 0930 on Monday to Fridays
- Senior citizens and disabled pass holders will continue to travel for free with a valid concessionary pass at other times
GMPTE has put together a ready reckoner webpage for different pass types, whilst East of the M60 has devised some case-studies on what the best options for various passengers will be from next week.
Confusion really starts to mount when we consider under-16 fares on school and cross-boundary bus services. On special school services subsidised by GMPTE, including Yellow School Buses, there are a different set of half-price fares than exist on bus operators’ commercial services, including return fares. For journeys that cross into neighbouring counties, concessionary fares will be half-fare on the section of route within Greater Manchester and then the full child fare for the section of route within the other county, whatever that might be: either half or two-thirds the adult fare depending on operator and county.
Stagecoach have put together a whole leaflet detailing fare changes from 3rd April plus the fare tables for their services – making it easier to work out what half-fare under-16s will have to pay. Single adult fares rise by 10p. A DayRider goes up 20p to £3.70 and a MegaRider goes up 50p to £11.50, whilst the special day tickets on former Bullocks services 42A and X57 are withdrawn. Interestingly, the price of a weekly Easyrider ticket (for under-16s and holders of a GMPTE disabled pass travelling before 0930 on weekdays) reduces from £7 to £5.75 – half the price of a MegaRider but only valid for journeys that start and end in Greater Manchester, as is a new half-price DayRider available for £1.85.
First revise most adult single fares upwards, despite having raised them in October 2010. The cost of a FirstDay ticket is up 10p to £4.20, with a FirstWeek adult ticket up £1 to £17 and the corresponding child ticket up £1.50 to £8.50. There are no changes to monthly or annual tickets, but the prospect of a FirstMonth Child ticket that can be bought off-bus at some point in the future.
Wigan-based South Lancs Travel have also uploaded fare tables for their bus services. From 3rd April an adult day ticket rises 20p to £4 and a weekly ticket rises £1 to £12. New day and week tickets are introduced for under-16s (£2 and £6 respectively) and 16-18 year olds (£3 and £10). Meanwhile, Rossendalebus revised fares this weekend just gone, with adult fares rising by 10%, a new Young Person’s Travelclub (aged 16-19 years) offering discounts, and child fares within Lancashire now set at 65% of the adult fare – though fares in Greater Manchester will be 50% from this weekend.
Those are the details we’ve heard so far – publicity has been a bit last-minute. Any other operators raising fares this weekend, leave us a comment below!
The price of the “any bus” range of season tickets will also increase from 3rd April, with the price of an adult Bus Saver Weekly up £1.10 to £19, the young person/student version up 75p to £14.25 and the junior version up £1.50 to £9.50 – again, half the price of the adult ticket. An “any bus” DaySaver rises 50p to £5.40 for the anytime ticket, or 30p to £4.80 for the off-peak version valid after 0930 on weekdays or all day on weekends.
The “good” news for full-fare paying adults is the extended System One boundary has not been amended – you will still be able to travel by bus to Belmont, Edgworth, Edenfield/Bacup, Glossop/Hayfield/New Mills, Middlewood/Poynton/Wilmslow/Styal and Lymm/Hollins Green/Culcheth even though they lie outside the county boundary.
If the people who write a blog about Manchester Transport have difficulties fully comprehending the subtleties of the new fare regime, what hope does the travelling public have? Next week is shaping up to be confusing for everyone, and we would expect some delays to services as fare collection takes longer than normal until passengers and bus drivers acclimatise. Our tip for senior citizens: try not to travel before 0930 on weekdays if you want to keep things simple and free. Our tips for young people: get an igo card now, and if you use the bus regularly then you might save some money by getting a day, weekly or monthly ticket.
[Image credit: “I ❤ spreadsheets” by Crishna Simmons on Flickr]