A DONCASTER markets traders’ official fears shoppers will be put off coming into the town after another price hike was announced for bus fares.
The borough’s biggest operator, First, is adding 10p to the cost of single fares on its services in the borough from April 1, sparking concern from residents and one of the borough’s prominent market traders.
First said it had been hit by ‘rising business costs’, and added the price of a weekly ticket in the borough is coming down from £17 to £13 – a saving of nearly 25 per cent.
But Doncaster Market Traders Federation committee member Nigel Berry warned: “There are already too many buses running round Doncaster half empty.
“This is bound to have an impact on how many people we get coming into town - it is going to put people off coming into to town and to the market because it’s going to be more expensive.”
He added he felt it could also make people more inclined to take the car into town rather than getting the bus, as parking prices have been frozen in the town centre’s car parks.
Residents and shoppers in the town centre were also unhappy at news of the plans to raise prices.
Marilyn State, aged 47, of Scawsby, said: “I’m not very pleased about this, because it feels to me like it costs enough already. People don’t have much choice but to pay the fares the charge.”
Helen Wilmott, aged 53, of Bessacarr, said it seemed like a lot of money. She said: “If the fares are going up again, I seriously might be tempted to walk into town in future.”
Carole Watson, aged 58, of Scawsby, said the current prices were a far cry from the prices 30 years ago. She said: “We used to have the cheapest fares in the country in the 1980s.”
Liam Chadwick, aged 18, of Balby, said he was starting to feel priced out. He said: “I know people who are on benefits and are struggling. They are not going to be able to afford price increases. I feel now that there are going to be times when I want to go into town but don’t feel I can afford it.”
First said ‘rising costs to the business’ had resulted in the need for the rises, and added it is investing in new buses.
Dave Alexander, regional managing director for First, said: “It is 15 months since our last price rise and, in that same period, a number of our fares have significantly dropped in price.
“We now need to review our fares to meet the ongoing challenge of rising costs to our business and have kept the rise below the rate of inflation.”
Mr Alexander added: “Despite some of these price changes, the cost of travel on a First bus still represents great value for money, and customers can continue to travel from less than £1.50 per day.
“Our aim in 2013 is to continue to give value for money to our customers, and to continue to build upon the customer growth which will be further helped by the potential of significant investment in new vehicles.”