Stagecoach Cumbria and North Lancs. is increasing its fares from Saturday, 8th April. Single and return fares will rise throughout the company's network, apart from in Carlisle, where the company faces competition from local operator, Reay's Coaches.
No details of these fares, or the level of increase, are yet available on the company's website.
Following the increase in the price of Bay Megariders in January (which rose by up to 32%) Stagecoach has now turned its attention to North West Megarider tickets, which cover the whole of its operating area throughout Cumbria and Lancashire (which to Stagecoach includes Wigan, Bolton, Southport and Liverpool - but not Manchester!)
The 1-day Explorer ticket, used by many Lancaster and Morecambe passengers to reach popular Lake District destinations, rises by just 20p to £11 for Adults (a 1.85% increase) but by 30p to £8 for children and concessions, (which is 3.9%). "Family" and "Group" versions rise by 12% and 10% respectively to £28 and £33. (In case you were wondering, a "Family" ticket is valid for up to 5 people, 2 of which may be adults, whereas a "Group" ticket is valid for up to five people ALL of whom may be adults, but is not valid for travel before 09.00 on Mondays to Fridays).
Three-Day Explorers rise from £24.70 to £25 (1.2%) with child versions increasing from £16.50 to £18 ( 9%).
Seven Day Megarider Gold tickets are up 70p to £28 (2.6%) with the 28-Day version rising 2% to what is effectively £100, although Stagecoach prefers to call it £99.99! In a further retreat from discounts for online purchase a 28 Day Megarider Xtra (sic) bought via monthly Direct Debit rises by no less than 17.6% to the same price as the on-bus 28 Day ticket. Of course, with only 12 monthly payments a year this still offers a saving over 13 28-Day tickets at the same price, although potential purchasers using it for travel to and from work or school will need to take holidays into account even more.
The widely-varying percentage rises give no clue as to what to expect when the increases for single and return tickets are revealed. With prices for multi-journey tickets rising by between 1.2% and 17.6% it appears that Stagecoach has been looking very closely at each ticket within its range with a view to maximising revenue without losing too many passengers in the process. Variations between the increase in adult and child versions of the same tickets may be due partly to "rounding up" but it is hard to see why a child 1-Day explorer should increase by twice as much in percentage terms as an Adult version and a child 3-Day version should rise by a whopping 9% when the Adult equivalent goes up by a mere 1.2%!
There is no mention of any changes to Bay Dayrider or Bay Dayrider Plus tickets and no mention at all on Stagecoach Cumbria & North Lancs website of the Lancashire Dayrider, although the sister site for Merseyside & South Lancs confirms that this will not increase.
Passengers wishing to find out how much their single and return fares will be after 8 April could try using the "Plan a Journey" facility on Stagecoach's website inputting a travel date on or after 8th April, although at the time of writing only current fares were being shown.
The increases to these tickets, and to singles and returns, are the first since March 2015.