A mum has hit out at a rise of almost 100 per cent in return fares for some children going by bus to Arthur Mellows Village College in Glinton.
Andrea Knight, of Welbourne, Werrington, Peterborough, said she was “fuming” after finding out that return tickets are due to rise from £2.50 to £4.70 from Monday, September 10.
The fare changes affect youngsters using the Kimes Route 71 service from Queensgate to the college, which goes via Dogsthorpe, Paston Ridings, Gunthorpe and Werrington.
As well as the rise in return tickets, from Monday it will cost £2.50 single and there will be a discount rate for children aged under 14 at £1.75 single and £3.30 return.
Ms Knight said she found out about the fares when her daughter Megan (12) brought a letter from bus firm home yesterday (Wednesday) after her first day back at school.
She said: “When Megan started at the college last year I wanted her to go on the bus.
“It’s a trek on the bike and she’s a bit clumsy and I wanted her to be safe.
“This is an almost 100 per cent increase on the return fare and while Megan will be able to have the discount this year, that’s still an 80p-a-day increase.
“It won’t us help next year and what is to stop them increasing it again? I can’t afford almost £25 a week.”
She is also expressed concern that the rise will mean more people will end up using their cars to drop their children off at the college.
Ms Knight added: “It will mean people will start taking their children to school instead.
“It is amazing the amount of traffic there is around Arthur Mellows Village College at school time, it’s bad enough before you consider all of this. It’s going to be bedlam.”
Dave Shelley, commercial director of Centrebus, which owns Kimes, said the firm had handed leaflets out to pupils before the summer holidays to alert parents to the fare changes.
According to the firm, the reason for the change is to address complaints from season ticket holders who use the service saying that they often cannot get onto the bus because it is too full.
With a capacity of in excess of 80, the current double-decker bus is the biggest the firm can supply.
However, as many children who use the service do so on an ad-hoc basis, Mr Shelley said it would not be commercially viable for them to send a second bus out on the route.
He claimed a solution proposed earlier this year for some pupils to use the council-subsidised 413 service had been rejected by the college as it required students to walk outside of the college grounds to catch it.
He said the purpose of the fare change was to encourage more people to buy season tickets which cost £224 for over 14s and £156.80 for under 14s for the autumn term, while annual tickets cost £592 for over 14s and £414.40 for under 14s.
Mr Shelley said the annual child rate would work out at £2.18 a day, which is less than the current flat return fare.
He said: “It’s not just about us hiking the fares, it’s about structural change to try to solve an ongoing problem.
“If 100 people buy season tickets then we will have to re-think how many buses we use but we need to get more people to commit to season tickets that way we will know how many people going to be travelling on a day-to-day basis and can manage the capacity and meet demand better.”
Headteacher Mike Sandeman said the first the college had heard about the impending fare rise was last night after a parent emailed to complain.
He said: “I sympathise with the parents concerned and we will correspond with the bus company to see if anything can be done, but that is still in its early stages.
“The service is a public bus service and we have no jurisdiction over it as it provides transport for children who attend the college but live outside the catchment area.”