As of Monday 7th November, the fare for an Under-19s Day-rider will climb from £2.80 to £3.10, the bus company have revealed.
Meanwhile, the Bay Big 5 Return and Out With Your Mates tickets have been scrapped altogether, substituted with a Bay Group Ticket at a supposedly reduced price of £10 for five people.
The Under-19 Day-rider is a staple for Lancs students, and with the bus services already under serious scrutiny from the student population, a 30p increase in daily fare will no doubt spark fierce backlash, especially given the recent disappointment with bus services.
Since the beginning of the academic year, a sharp increase in bus cancellations, particularly the critical 100, 1 and 1A services that run from Lancaster city centre to the university, has caused severe disruption for students. In a recent survey, 74% of students claim they are “unhappy” or “beyond disappointed” with the services, while many added that the prices are too high as it is.
“The buses seem to have gone downhill so quickly, almost overnight”, one told us, shaking her head. “I bought a term ticket, and I’m now wondering what I’m paying for.”
Students claim that with so few running, particularly when misconstrued information is being posted on the Stagecoach App, the buses have been reported to fill extremely quickly, and that the cancellations and late replacements are affecting their class attendance.
“By the time a bus arrives that I can actually get on, it’s ten minutes until my lecture starts, so I’m just turning around and going home,” an angry student reports, with many others in agreement.
Worryingly, others claim that the all-important night bus, relaying students from The Sugarhouse safely back home, has been temperamental. One student informed SCAN that they have been refused a ride twice because it was too full, despite paying for a return ticket and a Sugar-Bus stamp at the Sugarhouse exit, while others highlighted that it sometimes doesn’t arrive at all, leaving students having no choice but to splash out on taxi fares to get home safely, or walk across the city in the middle of the night.
Another issue highlighted by SCAN readers, is the attitude of some bus drivers being highlighted as ‘rude’ and ‘angry.’ While many of Stagecoach’s changes are clearly not the decision of drivers, some students have noted how in recent weeks some drivers have become irritable and less than friendly, presumably due to overcrowding on the limited buses.
Stagecoach released an email regarding the price increase, stating, “No one likes it when prices go up, so we’ve done our best to keep the increases as low as possible”.
The cost-of-living crisis has already hit the student population nationwide, with rent, energy bills, and groceries all climbing noticeably in price, while the standard student maintenance loan remains low, if not decreasing in size.
It’s safe to say that as the autumn nights draw in early, and the weather takes a turn, students will lose patience waiting in the cold, and anger will rise alongside ticket prices.