FARES on Stagecoach buses are set to rise by an average of 4% in April.
Local bus users took to social media to vent their frustration on at the increase. One user described the increase as “scandalous” whilst others complained that the fares continue to constantly increase.
Andrew Jarvis, Managing Director of Stagecoach Bluebird said: “We understand that this will be frustrating for our passengers. Unfortunately we have had to take some difficult decisions but we have done our best to keep fare changes to a minimum.
“We are facing continued rising costs in a number of areas of our business and we are seeing reduced public sector support for bus services as local authority budgets continue to be squeezed.
“We have worked hard to keep fares down for those who rely on the bus the most. As the cost of motoring continues to rise, our megarider tickets continue to offer great value travel for our regular commuters. Our bus and coach services continue to offer a greener, smarter and better value way to travel and we are committed to re-investing income from fares in further improvements for customers, including the continued expansion of free on board wifi.”
Following the announcement of the fares increase, Community Council member Phil Mills-Bishop invited the Commerical Manager of Stagecoach Bluebird, William Mainus, to Stonehaven to discuss concerns about the planned rise and invited Mr Mainus to talk to those who use the service and to get their views.
Asked about their main issues with the stage coach service, users contacted the Leader on social media about two main concerns with the buses; lateness and the drivers attitude.
We took these concerns to Mr Mainus when he was visiting the Town.
He said that traffic issues can effect the timings of the buses in the town, partiucuarly the Aberdeen route, however the company are revising the times in April to give these buses extra travelling time, this was previously done in October and is now being done again. He also said that Stagecoach will, in the right circumstances, recompense those travellers who are effected by lateness. He cited the example of when the X7 service frst started- there were issues with timings and Stagecoach offered cheaper tickets for a time to customers on the service.
In terms of driver’s attitude- many vented their frustration at “rude drivers” who were unwilling to engage with customers- Mr Mainus encouraged people to contact the company.
He said: “If customers have complaints about the drivers they should always contact us (Stagecoach). At the end of the day the customers are paying their wages, and my wages too.
“All new drivers attend a five day training course on customer relations after they pass their test.”
Mr Mainus highlighted that whilst fares are increasing, Stagecoach are investing in the area. He said: “We like to invest in Stonehaven, this can be seen in our new single decker buses and we put new coaches on the X7 routes and we have increased the frequency.”
He also took time to discuss the service with those waiting in the bus-stop outside farmfoods. Whilst one user did cite concerns about the fare increase, she was generally happy with all other aspects of the service, another described it as “very good” saying he has no problems.
One told Mr Mainus of issues he had getting on certain buses as they were so full- Mr Mainus said he would look into this and the company are aware of issues at some times and were planning on adding double decker buses to the service.