A number of travellers holding Bus travel tickets for a month or more have found themselves without return journeys due to poor planning by the Labour Council.
Councillor Don Worlding, Labour’s Transport Portfolio holder, admitted at a Council meeting on Tuesday that no agreement had been reached on getting Arriva tickets accepted by new operators Centrebus on the routes concerned – WEEKS after the Council made the change.
The Labour Council re-contracted services on 1st September – with a noticeable impact on some fares. But the bigger concern, say Liberal Democrats, is the further reduction in cross-ticketing – making Bus travel more disjointed and thereby even less attractive an option.
Barnfield and Bushmead Liberal Democrat councillor Martin Pantling, who quizzed Cllr Worlding about the changes at a Council meeting on Tuesday night, explains:
” Many of us want to encourage travel by bus. It can be a cheaper, more environmental option than taking the car for short journeys. Reliable bus services are also vital for those who do not have access to a car, and contribute to people having access to jobs.
” But the changes Labour made mean that on some routes, such as the number 24 that serves my ward, people will now travel with Arriva in the morning, but Centrebus in the evening. The result is that they cannot buy tickets to cover their return journey.”
” Many passengers have already found monthly Arriva tickets they bought in advance not being accepted these past few weeks. They have had to pay again, or be left stranded.
” We have no problem with different bus companies offering services, or competing for business. But there must be some co-ordination if Council Tax is being used to subsidise services. Travelcards or day passes accepted by all the operators is an obvious solution.
” Labour have gone in the opposite direction and left many people with no return ticket, and no practical weekly or monthly option. With a recent Council survey finding that barely half of people were satisfied with bus services, this lack of joined-up thinking can hardly help.”
Notes: 1) The 24, 27 and 29 Bus routes are all affected by a switch of operator from Arriva to Centrebus on evening services. 2) The latest “Place Survey”, on which the Council and its partners are judged by the Audit Commission, found that only 54% of respondents were satisfied with Bus services in Luton.