Bus firm does U-turn on cheaper fares

First Midland Bluebird managing director Paul McGowan announced changes to the local bus service today. Picture: Michael Gillen
First Midland Bluebird managing director Paul McGowan announced changes to the local bus service today. Picture: Michael Gillen
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Transport firm First has announced Bo’ness will now be part of its lower fares package following pressure from the community.

Responding to feedback from customers, the company said the Falkirk First Day/Week tickets, which offer significantly cheaper travel, will now be extended to include Bo’ness with a revised price of £4.60 for unlimited day travel and £16 for seven-day unlimited travel on the local service from February 5.

First sparked anger among Bo’ness residents when it introduced the scheme back in March last year as a six-month pilot before extending it as a long-term initiative.

Both times the town was not included in the scheme, but the firm has now re-evaluated the situation and customers from Bo’ness will now enjoy the same benefits others throughout the Falkirk district have had access to.

Falkirk Councillor Craig R Martin, who campaigned against the decision to omit the town from cheaper fares, said: “I am delighted that Bo’ness has now been included into the Falkirk day and weekly pass that I fought for.

“When First initially launched the passes off the back of my ‘Stop ripping off Falkirk’ campaign it was tainted as Bo’ness was wrongly left out, but I want to thank First bus for doing the right thing now.”

“I started my campaign because of the extortionate prices it cost to use a bus in Falkirk compared to surrounding towns and cities.

“It may have took a few years, but I am delighted we are getting a fairer deal in Falkirk. Now to get more buses on the road!”

First say the lower fares package has been “hugely popular” with customers saving over £10 on weekly travel.

Falkirk day and weekly tickets will rise by 10p and £1 respectively, while 10 journey tickets will be withdrawn and child fares will also rise in line with the adult increase.

The company has also announced it has frozen prices on mobile mTickets, however, this excludes the Falkirk zonal tickets; a £4.50 day ticket has introduced on the 60/62/63 (Stirling-Clackmannanshire) services for mTickets; introduced lower prices for longer distance zonal tickets; and says it ha kept fare increases on other products kept to a minimum.

First want to encourage more people to use its mobile mTickets app as it speeds up boarding and journey times.

First Midland Bluebird managing director Paul McGowan said: “We’re very pleased to be announcing the extension of the popular lower fares package to Bo’ness in response to feedback from customers and to be freezing prices on our mTickets products.

“While the Bo’ness extension is initially on a pilot basis, we are confident that residents will respond positively to it enabling us to maintain it on a long-term basis.

“We are committed to encouraging more passengers on to bus and the use of technology for mTickets enables us to speed up boarding times and journeys for our customers.”

He added: “While there are some increases in fares, we’ve sought to keep these to a minimum and introduce a balanced fares package which maintains levels of investment in services, including significant recent investment in our fleet.”

The 2017 fares package includes:

Falkirk Day/Week tickets will be extended to cover Bo’ness

Falkirk Day ticket will be increased to £4.60 (currently £4.50)

Falkirk Week ticket will be increased to £16 (currently £15)

Mobile mTickets frozen with cut in the Two Zone LM Day Ticket

New 60/62/63 Day Ticket on mTickets

10 journey tickets will be withdrawn

Adult singles increase by 10 pence

Day ticket will increase by 20 pence with week/4week/annuals increasing in line with this revision (on-bus/paypoint only)

Child fares increased in line with adult fares increase

No changes to Group Weekend Tickets

About mTickets

The ‘First mTicket’ app is easy to use and is available for free for Apple, Windows and Android smart phones.

Customers simply download the app, register, select from a variety of tickets, and navigate the secure payment system.

Before boarding customers can activate a pre-purchased ticket (no internet connection is required) and show the driver the activated ticket.

Repeat users need only select the required ticket and confirm their debit/credit card’s security code.

Benefits of using the app include:

Users don’t need to worry about losing their bus ticket – it’s on their phone

Users can buy tickets 24/7 and simply ‘activate’ when ready

No need to worry about having change for the bus

Quicker boarding and speedier journeys

For full details of the changes, visit www.firstgroup.com/scotlandeast.