ROCKETING bus fares could have devastating consequences fear council chiefs.
Warwickshire County Council say inflation-busting hikes could push families into poverty, damage the local economy and harm the environment.
The authority is so concerned they are writing to the Secretary of State calling for a limit on further price hikes.
Although the authority is responsible for providing county-wide bus travel, it is down to individual bus companies to set ticket prices.
And council chiefs fear year-on-year increases may lead people to stop using bus services completely.
The council said while daily, monthly and annual tickets were available at a reduced rate, overall bus fares had risen above the rate of inflation, making them unaffordable for many.
The proposed letter reads: “The major bus groups have increased some or all of their fares at least annually to meet their costs of operation.
“Bus services provide vital links to employment, shopping and other services and the cost of transport forms a major component of individual and family budgets.
“The almost continual increase of fares has become an urgent issue when incomes for many have fallen over recent years.
“The high cost of public transport discourages travel and there is a serious concern continuing to permit fare rises above the rate of inflation will erode the use of bus services, push families into poverty, damage the local economy and harm the environment.”
There are currently around a dozen bus companies operating in Warwickshire – Stagecoach being the main one.
Speaking to The Observer this week, a spokesman for Stagecoach insisted the company’s aim was to provide high-quality, affordable bus services for customers.
He said: “Delivering high-quality, reliable bus services is a shared responsibility between central Government, local authorities and bus companies.
“Supportive local authority policies and improved bus priority schemes are key to enabling operators to improving bus services for local people.”
“The fare changes we made this year were lower than the 3.6 per cent increase in costs experienced by bus operators in England and we also froze the price of our weekly and monthly tickets.
“In Rugby, our monthly Mega Rider ticket offers unlimited travel for £1.77 per day and we have also recently reduced the price of travel for passengers in Coventry.”
“We want to encourage more people to use public transport and we work hard to keep any fare changes to a minimum.”