Friday, 3 January 2014

Fares aren't all going up, but what are they?

'Tis the season for bus fares to go up. In much of the country they are, but not on First in Llanelli, as that town's Star reports. What a shame then, that the Star gives prices for day tickets without making it clear that they are day tickets! Many readers who are bus novices will read that and think that's the flat single fare and be put off.

Which brings me to one of my pet topics: single fares and finding out what they are. So many bus companies don't want their potential customers to know how much it costs to use their services. Really. How on Earth are they still in business?

Demographics are in the bus's favour. Fewer young people are learning to drive and that bodes well for bus passenger numbers in the long term. But only if we can get them on board in the first place. When people consider using the bus they have three key questions:

  • Where does the bus go?
  • When does it run?
  • How much will it cost to use?

If they can't get an answer to any one of those three questions, the bus company will have lost business. It really is as simple as that. The first two are usually easy enough to find out if you know where to look, but the third is a major problem.

Not enough bus companies have a section like this on their site. This is from Trent Barton.

There are a few honourable exceptions in the bus industry. Companies that are happy for people to know how much they will need to pay include Trent Barton, Brighton & Hove, Stagecoach Manchester, Blackpool Transport and Velvet. If you know of any more, please leave a comment and give them a well-deserved free plug.


  1. Although it doesn't give details of all fares, the East Yorkshire 'Fares and Tickets' page on their website includes a link to a 'Bus Fares Guide'. This shows just over 100 journeys with adult single/return, child single/return and weekly.ticket prices. Although not fully comprehensive, in my view it is more accessible to the general user than the fare table approach of the Stagecoach Manchester website. It also enables you to compare fares for different journeys easily, which the individual look-up approach of Southern Vectis and trentbarton doesn't allow.

  2. A 4th quuestion I would ask is - How long do you think it will be before the service changes times or is likely to be withdrawn.

  3. Network Warrington now have a fare calculator on their website which enables you to work out the single or return adult or child fare between stages on each service. Preston Bus used to have something similar before Rotala took over, although they have a simple structure of just three single fares on their commercial services.

  4. Many of the Norfolk ex-independents:
    Norfolk Green, Anglian Bus, Konectbus
    & still independents:
    Coach Services, Sanders, Eastons
    Go-Ahead's new standard website template also does so, in addition to Anglian & Konect there are:
    Southern Vectis
    Oxford Bus Company
    Carousel (no calculator, just popular fares)
    [Thames Travel also uses the new format but doesn't have fares]

  5. Centrebus have fare tables for all services alongside the timetables on their website (not yet on the joint venture High Peak website but covers all other operations) along with a fare calculator to enable you to work out return & season tickets from the base single fare.


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