Monday, 19 December 2022

£2 Fare Cap Confirmed


Our two local bus operators, Stagecoach and Kirkby Lonsdale Coach Hire are confirmed as participants in the government's "Get Around for £2" fare-capping scheme, between January and March next year.

The scheme will see single bus fares (adult, child and young persons) capped at a maximum of £2 per single journey. Fares below £2 will not change and neither will the price of return, day or longer-period tickets, although it may now be cheaper for some passengers to buy two singles instead of these. The government is reimbursing bus operators for the reduced fare from a £60m fund.

The scheme includes most bus journeys in England, although special school and college buses are excluded. Local exclusions, on which the reduced fare won't apply, include:

Excluded services.

40A      Morecambe Bus Station - Preston College

500      Overton - Ripley St Thomas School

501      Morecambe - Ripley St Thomas School

502      Heysham towers - Ripley St Thomas School

504      Sandylands - Ripley St Thomas School

935      Morecambe Clock tower - Ripley St Thomas School

940      Lancaster Bus Station - Preston Bus Station

941      Lancaster Bus Station - Preston Bus Station

942      Lancaster Bus Station - Preston Bus Station

Coming soon to a bus near you!

The Lancaster area, having a number of lengthy bus routes, will benefit from a number of bargains. Places that will be reachable by bus for £2 (plus, of course £2 for coming back!) include:

Blackpool          normally £8.50  now £4  (saving on a return journey - £4.50)

Preston             normally £8.50 now £4 (saving £4.50)

Kendal              normally £12.40 now £4 (saving £8.40)

Ambleside         normally £12.50 now £4 (saving £8.50)

Keswick             normally £12.50 now £4 (saving £8.50)

Kirkby Lonsdale normally £8 now £4 (saving £4)

Skipton              normally £11  now £4 (saving £7)

The scheme starts on 1st January, although there are no buses on that day and only a Sunday timetable the following day, and runs until 31st March 2023.

The purpose of the scheme is to help bus passengers survive the "cost of living crisis" but it is also hoped that many people will be tempted to give up their car and give the bus a try. Stagecoach at least is anticipating a number of new customers and has published a handy list of "do's and don't" aimed at those new to bus travel (although its impact is lessened by it being hidden away in the small print of the website!)  Here they are:

(Given our recent post about the interaction between bus drivers and passengers and how many of the latter go out of the way to thank the former, point 7 is interesting!)

New to the bus

If you haven’t travelled by bus before, here are a few tips for a simple journey.

  1. Plan your journey so you know which bus and route are right for you.
  2. Make sure you take a note of the bus number.
  3. When your bus is approaching the bus stop, just put out your hand so the driver knows to stop and let you on board.
  4. When you get on the bus, ask the driver for a single ticket to your destination.
  5. Your fare will be automatically capped at £2 and you can pay by cash, contactless or Apple/Google Pay. Don’t forget to take your ticket from the machine and keep it for the whole journey.
  6. Once your payment is accepted, take your seat and enjoy the journey.
  7. When you’re approaching your destination bus stop, press any of the stop buttons located around the bus. When the bus comes to a stop, thank your driver as you get off.                                           

Friday, 16 December 2022

"Thank you, driver...."

A Stagecoach driver hard at work in Keswick!

 It could be said that if a bus driver is doing his or her job well you don't really notice them. A bus journey is, after all, a routine affair and bus travel is something we do day-in, day-out without really thinking about it other than on the odd occasion when things go wrong. You get on, pay your fare, sit down...and then when you get to your destination, ring the bell and alight.

But it seems that many people do actually notice their driver and some of them have been getting in touch with the Bus Users' Group to tell us what they think.  And it seems that they like what they see: the Group has received several unsolicited testimonials concerning local bus drivers and Christmas seems as good a time as any to share them with you.  So here they are:

"All our drivers are nice and helpful"   (passenger on the no. 10 to the Ridge)

"On the whole, the local drivers are a good bunch"  (passenger from Scotforth)

"This driver is an extremely helpful person. Her anxiety about this matter (the state of the ungritted roads during icy weather last week) was prompted not only by personal inconvenience, but by the well-being of her passengers"  (passenger on the no.18 to Williamson Park)

"The drivers of the buses I use are patient and helpful, even when they are busy" (passenger from Bowerham)

Some passengers even know their drivers by name:

"J****" and "B**" are simply the best. Brilliant drivers who go the extra mile to make our bus journeys that much better" (regular passenger on the 81 to Kirkby Lonsdale)

Not just the drivers...

We've yet to hear from the drivers what they think of us passengers (!) but we hope they realise we appreciate the job they do.  A recent report stated that a typical bus driver is thanked 37 times a day for doing his job, which is five times more often than the average worker.  That was a national survey and all we can say is that there must be a lot of ungrateful passengers elsewhere in the country because it seems to us that the average Lancaster bus driver is likely to be thanked 37 times per trip!

The same survey showed that four-fifths of passengers claim that they thank their bus driver. An unscientific survey by the BUG confirms this and also that there is no difference between different ages or types of passengers - we are all equally grateful. It can be especially touching to see parents teaching young children to say "thank you" when alighting, to ensure the tradition continues.

Bus drivers have a lot to contend with in their daily job (your author knows from experience!)  and passengers' journeys can be stressful and unpleasant when things go wrong, But it seems that Lancaster passengers at least do appreciate their drivers and we hope the reverse is true!

Merry Christmas to one and all!