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Members of both LUSU and the University have announced they will be taking a series of measures to attempt to bring more practical and affordable transport solutions to the student body. Discussions have been held with Stagecoach – the bus company operating all services between campus, Lancaster and the train station – to make travel more convenient and affordable.
The price at the start of this academic year for an annual ‘UniRider’ bus pass was £340, with a similar pass valid for the three University terms costing £237. The annual pass is described on the Stagecoach website as “affordable, student-only bus travel from just 93p per day.”
Concerning possible negotiations with Stagecoach to lower these rates, VP (Welfare and Community) Tom Fox told SCAN: “Any conversation with Stagecoach is a difficult one. They have a monopoly on Lancaster and therefore without a second option, the University and LUSU struggle on a yearly basis to gain a result from negotiations with the company.
“However, this year seems one that might bring a change to that, with the University requesting an independent travel review that will let us know whether what Stagecoach is supplying, in terms of pricing and routes, are fair and worthwhile.”
Fox is also keen to secure some subsidisation of bus pass prices for students from the University. Staff already get a subsidised bus pass, having to pay around £70 for a year bus pass. “In terms of pricing for bus passes, we have also seen that staff get a great deal of their cost subsidized by the University and we fail to understand why this isn’t the same for students – I am currently looking into proposals, and how we can achieve this.”
On the subject of pass prices, Lancaster University’s Environment and Sustainable Travel Co-ordinator Philip Longton told SCAN that “the affordability of student UniRider bus passes is an issue to be discussed with Stagecoach this spring, following discussion between the University and LUSU on options available. Pricing is discussed with Stagecoach on an annual basis.”
LUSU and the University have also made progress in persuading Stagecoach to provide more convenient and frequent bus routes from campus and throughout the city. It is unclear what these route changes will entail as of yet, with an announcement due from Stagecoach before the end of Lent term.
“You might also have seen the new route changes coming in this February, which actually came as a result of the University (with feedback from us as a Union) arguing for more accessible routes for students and staff,” Fox said.
A number of other improvements to bus services are also to be implemented by Stagecoach, commencing on Monday Week 7. The changes have been informed by discussions between Stagecoach, the University and LUSU. These changes include more direct services between campus and the railway station and more seats throughout the day between campus and the city via Greaves.
Longton told SCAN: “The University meets regularly with Stagecoach to improve bus services for students and staff of the University. It has spent considerable time in representing student and staff bus travel issues since the various changes to bus routes and timetables were introduced by Stagecoach at the beginning of the academic year.”