Page last updated at 15:47 GMT, Friday, 12 December 2008

Bus fares hiked by 8% in new year

Generic bus passengers
The company is putting up the cost of tickets in January

Bus fares across South Yorkshire are going up in the new year by an inflation-busting 8%.

Operator First said rising fuel, utilities and staff costs had forced it to make the decision.

Managing director Brandon Jones said the firm was "meeting ongoing challenges of rising costs".

Both Lib Dem and Labour councillors on Sheffield City Council have condemned the rise and cited the need to get more people on public transport.

In a statement, the First Group company said the cost of fuel bought in advance had affected their business.

Mr Jones said: "Fares have to be set at a level which cover our anticipated costs for the medium term.

"The most significant impact on our costs in 2009 is the change in the price we pay for fuel."

The company's statement then explains the fuel had been bought in advance and the costs would "rise significantly".

We need to encourage more people to get on public transport, this is going to have fewer people on the bus
Councillor Ian Auckland

The company also said it had invested in new buses, staffing and CCTV on the vehicles.

But the rises have drawn criticism from Lib Dem and Labour councillors in Sheffield who think the rises are too high.

Councillor Ian Auckland, who is responsible for transport, said: "I think many fare-paying passengers will think this is excessive at a time of economic difficulty - and this is an inflation-busting increase.

"They're a profitable group, they can afford to cut a bit of slack for the public.

"We need to encourage more people to get on public transport, this is going to have fewer people on the bus."

Labour's Brian Lodge said: "We're deeply disappointed because it's at a time when everybody is feeling the pinch.

"We'd hoped the bus companies would have shown a little more consideration for their passengers."



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