Thursday, 17 May 2018

First's Fair Fares? - Farcical Fares?

First's Fair Fares?
I stops when I'm requested although it spoils the ride 
So I can shout "Get out of it, we're full right up inside!" 
We don't ask much for wages, we only want fair shares 
So cut down all the stages and stick up all the fares
If tickets cost ten pounds a piece 
Why should you make a fuss? 
It's worth it just to ride inside 
That 30-foot-long by 8-foot-wide 
Inside that monarch of the road, 
Observer of the Highway Code, 
That big six-wheeler first bus-painted
Buses for Sheffield, much less frequent
less reliable, omnibus.
Thanks, sort of, to "Transport of Delight" from the late great Flanders and Swann.

At the end of this month there are rumours that we shall see more of Buses for Sheffield - so far we could hardly have seen less. To celebrate this, one of the enthusiastic participants in this exciting scheme to attract new passengers and redress the seemingly inevitable decline on passenger numbers is ...


Of course a responsible commercial undertaking must ensure that its finances are in good order to keep its shareholders happy, to keep the grey suits of the Stock Market happy and, of course, to try to convince Apollo Global Management that its generous bid for First's shares is not generous enough!
As of August 2017, Apollo managed over $232 billion of investor commitments across its private equity, credit and real asset funds and other investment vehicles making it the second largest US-based alternative asset management firm. Among the most notable companies currently owned by Apollo are Claire's, Caesars Entertainment Corporation, CareerBuilder, Novitex Enterprise Solutions, and Rackspace.

Passengers? Positive Publicity? Buses for Sheffield?

First have published details of the increases which, in some areas, seem punitive.
But here is the "con"(?). If you pay using the App, there is no increase - presumably until everyone is hooked in, then further increases follow. The joy of App payment is that is it oh so easy to ignore what you are paying - just wave and pay, you'll never think about the actual money!

Why, then, would you pay £4.40 for a First Bus only day ticket when for ...
... just 10p more you can travel on ALL buses for Sheffield. And the Stagecoach only day ticket remains at £4.
Expect increases in the Stagecoach Dayrider and the all operator CityWide in a month or so!

Collusion, what collusion?

But that Happy App offer does not appear to apply to single fares.
But look at the increases.

£1.50 to £2.00 - 33.3 (recurring!) per cent.

£2.50 to £3.00 - 20 per cent

O.K., First Bus are moving on to a coarser fare structure BUT ...

Surely the best PR is to REDUCE some fares and increase others to create the "coarse" scale? But then what happens? Do increases then go in £1 leaps? That can be really painful. The alternative, of course, is to change the fare stages, just a Flanders and Swann expounded all those years ago. (the show opened on 31st December 1956).

Farcical Fares
Some weeks back the Rail Delivery Group (used to be more sensible called the Association of Train Operating Companies) realised that rail fares in the UK are too complicated.

And that passengers are not necessarily getting the cheapest fare.

And that there are 15 million different fares in the UK. (Who's counted them?)

And you can (sometimes) get better value by busing split tickets.

So they are having a consultation.


Unconcerned about being poisoned, Mrs fbb took a day return to Salisbury a week or so back. Day Return £17.95
Chris Tarrant was at the window ...
... (not really Chris Tarrant) and announced, "but we don't want to sell you that, we want to sell you a cheaper fare." And so Mrs fbb was sold a day return to Crewkerne (one stop up the line) and a day return from there to Salisbury.
Total £16.90, a saving of £1.05. After Mrs fbb has finished partying on the savings (!), you have to wonder why the day return isn't £16.90 on one ticket. Presumably if the man in the ticket office always sells the cheaper set of two, no one will every buy the other one.

There are thousands of such stupidities, so why not simply get rid of them; delete them from the database, and destroy the pointless data in the usual matter, Mr Phelps.
It doesn't take a RDG consultation to make that decision, surely?

Of course we all (and that includes the RDG) know that the fares structure needs a complete re-think, not just silly tinkering with names and availability. It is HIGHLY unlikely that this "consultation" will change anything because any change will muck up all the franchise contracts.

And they are in a big enough mess without trying to make sense of the fares. Yesterday came the shock (NOT!) announcement that the East Coast franchise was being taken back into public ownership AGAIN; and it is no secret that South Western Railway, Northern and Trans Pennine are all struggling to make the books balance.

Surely the current franchising "model" is no longer fit for purpose?

fbb's fares suggestion appeared in a blog back in February 2017 (read again).

Offered, as then, for no fee whatsoever!

But, be warned good reader, The RDG has made it clear that any changes will NOT result in any fares reductions overall.

Slight blogging brevity due to being away all day yesterday on Isle of Wight for a funeral Service of Thanksgiving.

 Next journey planner etc blog : Friday 18th May 


  1. The annual price change for Travelmaster happened in January so unlikely to follow suit just yet! Stagecoach are still to do their 2018 pricing so may well do so! The move to buying on app or online is all about reducing boarding times and delays caused by that.

    First do a carnet of ten single tickets on the app, £18 adult and a new student version for £5

    1. Don'the apps have other benefits for companies, like holding money in advance of travel, even less need to handle cash?

      The same benefits seem to come from OAP passes. I dread to think, as one myself, how long it'd take some to delve in to a purse for a fare.

      Why not then just put a premium on fares paid by cash, and get rid of corporate self serving apps that are good marketing, but useless for multi-operator use?

  2. Keep up at the back!

    Apollo's bid was withdrawn on May 8th.

  3. Anon. Missed that, although I was looking out for it. Presumably its withdrawal is not such a "shock horror" so less newsworthy. I fear it may have given others ideas, though.

  4. In Bristol first increased prices for cash tickets and still haven't increased them for m tickets. They've also sped up buses as well compared to faffing afroud with cash

  5. FBB asks why you would pay £4.40 for a First Bus only day ticket when for just 10p more you can travel on ALL buses for Sheffield.

    In Bristol, the First Bus day ticket costs £4.50 when bought from the driver. That's the *same* price as the multi-operator Bristol Rider ticket...!

  6. Until recently the Ride Cornwall was £10 and allowed travel on all train, First Kernow and Plymouth Citybus services in Cornwall. The First Kernow day ticket for their services only was £12!!

  7. Te Sheffield fare changes accentuate the weirdness/unfairness of the existing fare structure. Halfway to Fulwood on 120 - 75 mins- stays at £2; a legacy of the competition with Stagecoach before the Partnership. Nether Edge to City on 3/3a- 14 to 16 mins- where there has never been any competition- goes from £2.50 to £3. A taxi would be almost as cheap for two people. OK, with a day ticket the price comes down to £2.25, but this isn't going to exactly encourage casual use. As ENCTS refunds are at a flat rate in South Yorkshire that can't be blamed.

    On the other hand, on last year's precedent, once Stagecoach fares go up First will probably stick in a crafty and totaly unannounced increase on the two joint routes....