Monday 28 February 2022

First Fares Fair - Or Fares Farce (2)

But First, The 200 Club!

Not those who score badly at the TV game Pointless (low is good, high is bad) but folk who have been told that their bus is being withdrawn, apparently without replacement from April. 

For some time now, Stagecoach have produced no printed publicity and nowhere (in print or on line) do they bother to provide a map for route 200.

So fbb has made one.
If no replacement is provided, all the communities on the map above will lose their bus service - completely and utterly. Local routes exist to serve the areas north of the A45 and west of the M40, but otherwise, zilcho.

Aren't we supposed to be having "Enhanced Partnerships"; which look like "Reduction Partnerships"?

Aren't we supposed to be Building Back Better; which looks like Building Back Much Worse.

And So Back To First's fares booklet.
It would be interesting, but hardly worth while, to count up how many different fares products are listed in this 40 page booklet.

Answer - a lot!

Some of them are something of a mystery to fbb. To make matters worse, there are NINE different ways of paying for your ride. with little icons next to each class of ticket. Needless to say, NONE of these methods is available for all fares types.

Noting that the flat fare in Bristol is £2.20 ...
... we might be interested in a "bundle" of five singles. Surely there will be a bit of discount for a bulk buy?
No deal, Bristolians! Each of your five "bundled" singles will cost you exactly £2.20. So don't bother lending First Bus the £8.80! Just pay for your single journeys when you take them. Just so you know what a good deal it is, they even tell you that it works out at £2.20 a go!

The discounts do kick in, however, if you stray from boring old single tickets. A return is ...
... and may be used for ANY two journeys, not just a "there and back". But a day's unlimited travel costs only £1 more than a return.
But you can also buy a three day "Rover" ...
... or a five day Rover ...
... or a three day Rover but for non consecutive days OR a five day Rover ditto, but at the same price.
But remember (how could you ever forget?) the 3 day and 5 days consecutive Rovers are ONLY available on the bus - whereas the 3 in 10 or the 5 in 10 are ONLY available on the App.

There will be an exam at the end of this lesson!

Of course, there is a weekly ticket ...
... at just two quid more than the five days version.

These deals do offer discounts, but the options are so numerous and the calculations so varied that it takes a huge amount of brain power to work out which is best.

Then seven days is £21.50 but eight days (5 days + 3 days) is £34 or (7 days plus 1 day) £27. 

A weekly Rover provides travel for £3.07 per day if you use it every day or, more likely, £3.25 a day for six day's use. The permutations are huge and must be beyond the decision making abilities of most passengers.

Even better if you buy a monthly.
£78.40 divided by 31 is just £2.53 a day but only if you use it every day.

But, to help you (?) there is Tap and Cap.
But, of course, (you wouldn't expect it to be simple, would you?) the various caps are more expensive than the 3, 5 and 7 day Rovers.

And you have to use the App, so you are sucked in!


Why can't you Tap and Cap on your debit card? Or can you?

fbb is now so befuddled that he cannot be sure.

But then it all goes belly-up once to get outside the Bristol OR Bath OR Weston super Mud zones. Then you are back to graded fares "from" - remember when we had fare tables.

But worry not, confused passenger, First explains it all ...
... with a helpful example ...
... and another helpful example ...
... and a stunningly helpful diagram.
So it is easy to see that the fare from City Centre The Centre (remembering that "The Centre" was "The Tramway Centre" where all the tram routes met and not necessarily the centre of Bristol) to Thornbury is ...

... what?

And an exclusive fbb video of a harassed Bristol bus passenger (Miss O'Hara from Fishponds) seeking advice from a Mr Butler (First Bus local official) after a "meet the manager" session in the Colston Hall.
And, ludicrously, if you have the App (for which treatment is now available on the NHS) an over 12 mile journey will not cost you "from" £6.50 ...
... but £3.70.

Good, innit?

 Next book review blog : Tuesday 1st March 


  1. Damned if you don't, damned if you do! Yes, fares are complicated if you want to run buses without public subsidy, and the First approach shows they are trying to serve many market segments. And they put this information in print - fbb's favourite medium, it would seem - but this is apparently not good enough.

    There's always the Arriva approach as an alternative....

    1. Exactly.
      Though locally, as far as I can work it out, I'd pay less with Arriva than First. Perhaps.
      But I'd rather have neither.

  2. That "Use Tap & Cap in Bristol" table has been reported to the Apostrophe Protection Society.

  3. A lot of Authorities put in bids for funding to support their local bus network as part of the BSIP fund. This was in the belief that the pot was £3bn and the money would be available from April
    Now we are in the position that some Authorities such as Kent are consulting on cutting back their supported network and have little money to cover services withdrawn by operators who cannot run them legally anymore (i.e. they would be knowingly operating them at a loss which is anti-competitive (go figure))

    1. And in related news, those authorities which were successful in their ZEBRA bids have yet to receive the money so can't actually order the buses. As the orders aren't in the book yet the manufacturers are now saying they may not be able to build them all in time to meet the DfT's deadline.
      Still, an underspend on ZEBRA might mean a few more £s for everyone else's BSIP...

  4. Fbb asks, "Why can't you Tap and Cap on your debit card? Or can you?" Surely the picture and the use of the phrase "contactless card" says that you can. If it said "Smartcard" that would be a different matter. Furthermore the website clealy gives the options as VISA, Mastercard, Apple Pay (now with Express Mode) and Google Pay.

    1. Indeed - the page extract clearly says 'contactless card'.
      Apps aren't tap on/tap off anyway, they just use a QR code on boarding.

  5. I don't know why fbb is so against paying fares with an app. Is it an age thing? Or just that he hasn't needed to try it? Here in Brighton, vast numbers of people use the app or tap on/tap off. It's straightforward and boarding is very quick. The First and B&H/Metrobus apps work on QR codes; weirdly Stagecoach seems to use the same app software but their ticket machines can't read QR codes, so it's still down to the driver to validate and (if they feel like it, press a button to record the journey). Slightly slower and presumably less data generated.