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Labour MPs Keep Pressure on First


Dawn Primarolo and Kerry McCarthy are keeping up the pressure on transport giant, First, by writing to the company’s National Chief Executive, Sir Moir Lockhead, for the third time this year about the high cost of bus travel in Bristol.

Dawn says, "We are grateful for Sir Moir’s replies so far, but we are not persuaded by his arguments.  We are not prepared to give up, so we’ve written again.  Both Kerry and I welcome the investment we have seen in Bristol recently, with the new buses and showcase routes, but unfortunately fares remain stubbornly high. If First aren’t prepared to act, then the Council needs to. The Government has granted new powers to local authorities, and an Integrated Transport Authority could have far more control over our bus services than we have now. There is – supposedly – all party support for a transport authority, but we’ve seen no progress in the last six months. We need fewer warm words on transport, and more action."

Kerry adds, "We saw yet another increase in single and return fares last month, and more expensive monthly and yearly passes. Time and again First give excuses for these price hikes, but they are a company who improved their operating profit by 38 per cent last year, to nearly £500 million.  Local residents tell us that these high prices deter them from using the buses.  Unless Bristol’s public transport is made more affordable it will never be the credible alternative to the private car which we really need".

Dawn and Kerry first wrote to Sir Moir Lockhead in January and followed this up with a second letter in April, as reported in the Evening Post ("MPs demand answers to Bristol’s ‘too high’ bus fares" – April 13 2009). This week Dawn and Kerry have written again to Sir Moir in protest against the latest fare increase in Bristol, and asking for fares to be reduced to help people during the recession.  They hope the company can find a way to reduce fares during these difficult times when families are under financial pressure.

The UK bus division of First Group Plc recently reported increased revenue and passenger numbers. 

[10 August 2009]


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