Thursday, 8 November 2012

Another about fares

Here's a simple comparison of a few random bus journeys that I have discovered the fares for. Included are operator, journey, cost of single fare, distance as driven, and cost per mile. 

First Bridgend McArthurGlen £2.25 1.8 £1.25
First Bridgend Ynysawdre £2.75 3.1 £0.89
Stagecoach Aberdare Maerdy £3.40 5.2 £0.65
First Bridgend Kenfig Hill £3.45 7.2 £0.48
Stagecoach Tonyrefail Bridgend £5.00 11.5 £0.43
Edwards Pontypridd Talbot Green £3.55 9 £0.39
Stagecoach Aberdare Bridgend £7.00 24.9 £0.28
Stagecoach Mountain Ash Pontypridd £2.10 7.8 £0.27
Stagecoach Merthyr Tydfil Cardiff £4.90 25.1 £0.20
Newport Bus Newport Cardiff £2.00 16.3 £0.12

First Cymru don't come out of this all that well. Their single fares appear to cost more for the distance served than other operators. In the 2011 Welsh Bus Passenger Survey their fares were considered to be the least value for money. A single from Bridgend town centre to the nearby shopping outlet costs £2.25 for a journey of less than 2 miles, which is pretty ridiculous if you ask me. Maybe it's no surprise that a number of services have seen reductions in frequency from Bridgend, given that passengers are expected to come up with such high fares. Recently, First Cymru have said they aim to reduce the average of their fleet to 8 years old, which by my reckoning would involve replacing around 20% of their oldest buses with brand new. Lots of work to do there then.

An interesting stat is that it costs over £2 more to get from Aberdare to Bridgend (the single is actually £7.10 but a £7 explorer does the job) than it does to get from Merthyr to Cardiff, despite it being a slightly shorter journey. Competition is clearly the key here. Take a single from Mountain Ash to Pontypridd. There are half hourly trains available at £2.40. Then take a single from Aberdare to Maerdy which costs over 2½ times per mile the cost of the Mountain Ash - Ponty ticket. Is there any competition? No, of course not. Similarly, there's no competition between Tonyrefail and Bridgend, hence the high cost of that ticket. If Stagecoach applied their miles per £ rate for the Mountain Ash - Pontypridd ticket, a single would cost £5.10. Would anyone bother? I doubt it. More worrying is that if the same route was priced at First's Bridgend - McArthurGlen ticket, a single between Mount and Ponty would be a whopping £9.75!!

There are clearly many discrepancies in ticket prices and it would appear that operators are happy to charge what they like on routes where they have no competition. Maybe it's those routes that funds the cheaper routes where there is competition.

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