Pressure on First to reconsider bus zone

The Bo'ness community has reacted with anger over First' decision to exclude the area from new pricing
The Bo'ness community has reacted with anger over First' decision to exclude the area from new pricing

Petitions have been launched to pressure bus company First into including Bo’ness in its new cheaper ‘one zone one fare’ pricing system.

The new prices came into effect almost two weeks ago giving First bus passengers unlimited travel anywhere within the zone for £4.50 with a First Day ticket and unlimited travel for £15 a week – £2.14 a day – with a weekly ticket.

However, the only area in the Falkirk Council district not benefitting from this is Bo’ness, while other fares went up for the Bo’ness area, sparking anger from the community.

The changes were brought in after concerns from the public over pricing and a campaign by Falkirk North Councillor Craig Martin last year for lower fares.

He welcomed the price changes but has criticised Bo’ness’s omission and has launched a petition – FAREness for Bo’ness – on change.org in a bid to force First to reconsider its decision.

Mr Martin, who is Labour’s candidate for the Falkirk East seat in May’s Holyrood election, said: “When I noticed it did not include Bo’ness I thought it was a simple mistake, but after their response to my letter that did not even mention Bo’ness, it clearly indicated the area would not be included.

“I think this is unfair and wrong. Bo’ness is part of Falkirk and should be included so I am fighting this decision and hope the people of Bo’ness back the campaign.”

Community activist Gail Nash has also started a petition – Back the Bo’ness Fare – on change.org. She said: “This situation is unacceptable, given the recent closure of businesses and local services in the town, necessitating travel for many people outwith the area.”

Angus MacDonald, the SNP candidate for Falkirk East, said he contacted First and received an assurance there will be a review, but was given no timescale.

He said: “I am pressing First Bus for an early decision with a view to including Bo’ness in the zonal area. Everyone I have spoken to agrees that with a population of circa 15,000 Bo’ness should not be excluded from Falkirk district-wide bus ticket deals.

“First must reconsider their zonal scheme and not penalise Bo’nessians for living at the edge of Falkirk district.”

First did not respond for comment as we went to press but has previously stated the zone will be reviewed once the pilot ends in August.