Stagecoach is unlikely to change its mind over steep increases to school bus fares, despite a growing level of opposition.
On Tuesday (October 2) Leamington councillors Helen Adkins, Colin Quinney and Jojo Norris held an urgent meeting with Stagecoach West Midlands to raise the concerns of local parents, hit by recent bus fare increases.
The meeting was held with the managing director of Stagecoach Midlands, Phil Medlicott, and other Stagecoach representatives, where concerns about the recent increases in prices of up to 48 per cent by Stagecoach for secondary school pupils and students were raised.
But campaigners claimed that Stagecoach said it would not reverse the increases.
Many parents, pupils and students from across the Warwick district have been raising their concerns and a petition set up to oppose the fare increases has so far reached more than 600 signatures in three weeks.
The increase has come about after Stagecoach changed the original school passes to the more expensive ‘Studyrider’ passes, which gives a wider range of travel.
During the meeting, Councillors Adkins, Quiney and Norris put pressure on Stagecoach to offer parents the option of the original passes which only allow pupils to go to and from school, since many parents and indeed students have made it clear that they do not want to pay more for a service they do not need or will not use.
According to the councillors, Mr Medlicott’s answer to their request was “no we are simply not going to do that.”
Helen Adkins, Labour county councillor for Leamington Willes Ward, said: “Whilst we sympathise with Stagecoach in that it has had £150,000 of government subsidies withdrawn, it is totally unacceptable and frankly unethical to make up that shortfall by hitting families and young people in the way Stagecoach have by increasing their fares so considerably and abruptly.
“Stagecoach did listen to our concerns and we hope to move from this impasse. They agreed to another meeting in the next month or so to discuss the issue further and other concerns we have around different bus routes that are causing residents concern.”
Colin Quinney, Warwick district councillor for the Leam ward, added: “It is quite clear from our meeting that the decision to increase prices is solely about money and nothing to do with offering flexibility for users, as previously claimed by Stagecoach bosses.”
Jojo Norris, Leamington town councillor for the Sydenham ward, said: “Raising prices so significantly without any warning is simply unacceptable and has left many local parents considerably out of pocket at a time when people are struggling with low wages and an increase in living costs.”
A spokesperson from Stagecoach said: “During our meeting with Councillors Adkins, Quinney and Norris we reiterated our position on the new Studyrider which hasn’t altered.
“Despite this we feel the meeting was productive and we discussed a range of issues that our Leamington bus operation faces.”
The petition against the changes has more than 600 signatures.
To sign the petition click here