Protests over ‘unfair’ and ‘crazy’ bus ticket prices

PUBLISHED: 17:33 09 November 2018

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

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

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Parents in Newton Poppleford took to the street to protest ‘unaffordable’ bus ticket prices.

The protest was organised by Helen Buttery who said the prices were ‘crazy’.

She told the Herald: “A ticket for school children in North Devon costs £180, if you want to get one here it’s £324.

“It used to be £1 for a child to travel with an adult and just before the summer holidays, they raised it to £4.80 to go from here to Sidmouth.

“So it’s almost a factor of five increase of the price.”

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 from Newton Poppleford to Sidmouth.

Helen continued: “To get my child to her dance class for example, the bus fare is as much as the lesson and that’s just for the child.

“If adults travel with them as well it makes it even more expensive.”

The buses in the area are run by Stagecoach but when Helen attempted to contact them about the high prices, she said she was told ‘they have some of the cheapest fares in the country’.

When The Herald contacted Stagecoach regarding the protest, a spokesperson said that a change in the summer did see the loss of the £1 child ticket but that it never allowed independent travel for young people.

Stagecoach said: “We are surprised by this protest as we have not changed fares in this area since April 29, more than six months ago.

“One of these changes was the removal of the £1 child add on fare, which was only available in conjunction with an adult ticket purchase, and therefore did not allow independent travel for young people.

“Whilst some other fares changed we did not increase child single fares in this particular area.”

Hazel Jeffery, chair of the Newton Poppleford Parish Council, attended the protest and said: “We’ve been looking into this and we realise they may have made some concessions in Exeter but rural locations are particularly affected because we rely on public transport here.”

She said that with the increase of housing, the need for affordable bus travel is growing.

“A lot of new houses are going in on the affordability and sustainability so there should be buses that are affordable ‘but that’s just not the case,” she said.

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