Safety warning issued over West Norfolk bus fare rises

Parents angry at Fare Hike for children Pictured at Bus shelter Nusery Lane South Wootton. ANL-160413-170347009
Parents angry at Fare Hike for children Pictured at Bus shelter Nusery Lane South Wootton. ANL-160413-170347009
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Big fare increases imposed by a West Norfolk bus operator could put children’s safety at risk and damage the local economy, it has been claimed.

Stagecoach bosses have shown no signs of backing down over the measures, which have seen the cost of some journeys more than double, despite being branded “robbers” by their critics.

But more than 300 people have now backed a Facebook campaign protesting against the changes.

And campaigners say they fear the increases could have a much wider impact on the community.

Jo Rust, secretary of the North West Norfolk Constituency Labour Party said she had received a “massive” volume of communications from people unhappy about the increases since their impact began to be felt at the beginning of the new school term last week.

Many parents have reported the cost of their children’s journeys doubling to £18 per week, while some monthly tickets that had been available before the Easter break have now been scrapped.

Mrs Rust said she initially had not been able to believe the scale of the increases, which she described as “shocking”.

She said: “It could seriously jeopardise children’s ability to get to school safely.

“That extra cost to parents each week is money that’s not going to local shops and businesses.”

But Stagecoach bosses have maintained their services still offer value for money to the travelling public, despite the latest increases.

They have insisted that the changes were publicised before Easter and the increases will be used to fund additional investment in the network.

And, in an email posted on the Say No to Stagecoach Ticket Increase Facebook page yesterday, Andy Campbell, managing director of the company’s eastern division claimed there was “a lot of misinformation on social media” about the changes.

Meanwhile, around three-quarters of correspondents who responded to a question on the page said they had stopped using the company’s services in protest at the changes.

Several others said they had reduced their usage, with some saying they were now only using Stagecoach buses if they had no other choice and others claiming they had switched their custom to rival operator Lynx.