BIG increases to the cost of school bus passes have been labelled “unacceptable”.
Warwickshire county councillor Helen Adkins has demanded a meeting with bosses of operator Stagecoach following the hikes – which in some cases have been as high as 48 per cent.
The Leamington councillor said: “The increases in prices by Stagecoach are hitting families hard at a time when wages are stagnant and there is a real pressure on livings standards. Raising prices significantly without due warning or consultation is simply unacceptable.
“The justification of the changes has been that the new passes allow school age children to use them at any time such as at night or at the weekends, but many parents and indeed students have made it clear that they do not want to pay more for a service they will not use.
“At a minimum Stagecoach should offer parents the option of the original passes which only allow pupils to go to and from school.
“Personally, myself and my husband have had to make the decision this year, to find alternative arrangements for our children to travel to and from school other than using the school bus, as we feel that the increase is unaffordable. However, I realise that for many parents, finding an alternative to using a school bus is not optional.
“I have called for an urgent meeting with Stagecoach to discuss the concerns of local residents. Stagecoach must listen to local parents and think again.”
Stagecoach defended the move and pointed out alternatives were available.
A spokesperson told The Observer: “Our new Studyrider ticket offers unlimited travel at any time of day and on any day of the week, throughout term time, which is something most of our previous scholar tickets did not provide. It enables pupils to travel in the evenings, at weekends and during half-term holidays without having to buy an extra ticket and it offers everything that an adult Megarider ticket offers but at a discounted price.
“This new ticket was introduced to ensure we have a ticket range that is simple and which helps us deliver a stable bus network over the longer term.
“As an alternative passengers have the option of child singles and adult returns, seven day and 28 day tickets. This will however normally work out more expensive over the term.”