Protest sparks meeting with Stagecoach boss

PUBLISHED: 12:30 23 January 2019

Parents and children gathered in Newton Poppleford to protest over high bus prices. Picture; Sam Cooper

Parents and children gathered in Newton Poppleford to protest over high bus prices. Picture; Sam Cooper

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The Stagecoach South West managing director has agreed there is work to do after a ‘constructive’ meeting with the Ottery Ward councillor.

The issue of high bus fare prices in Newton Poppleford was highlighted by resident Helen Buttery.

She helped organise a protest in the village in November and said prices in the area were ‘crazy’.

The protest was joined by parents and children from the local school as well as the chair of the Newton Poppleford Parish Council, Hazel Jeffery, who said that the increase of housing means the need for affordable travel is growing.

The protest sparked a meeting between councillor Claire Wright along with Helen and the Stagecoach South West managing director Bob Dennison in December to discuss the issue.

Claire noted that the disproportionately expensive fares were caused by historical zone charges.

In the meeting, Claire said the managing director agreed to look at these zones with a view to making the situation fairer for Newton Poppleford and to also check whether numbers had altered since the scrapping of the ‘child add on’ fare in May last year.

Mr. Dennison told The Herald: “I had a very constructive meeting with Councillor Wright and one of her constituents in December and agreed to look into a number of points she raised about our Newton Poppleford services.

“We have since been analysing current patronage levels and trends in the area and also included information from a focus group and survey focussing on broader issues.

“However, there is still some work to do and the feedback will then require detailed analysis and discussion before we will be in a position to make any firm proposals.”

At the price of £16.60, five adults travelling across Devon for the day costs the same as one adult and two children purchasing a return to Sidmouth.

At the protest, Helen said the removal of the £1 child add on fare, which was available when bought with an adult ticket, means it now costs £4.80 for a child to travel from Newton Poppleford to Sidmouth.

She commented that the change meant it was now more expensive for her to travel by bus to her childrens’ dance class then it was to actually pay for the lesson.

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