We are all angry about the First price rises due in January. First know that they have us over a barrel – if a barrel of oil goes up in price we pay more and if it goes down we pay more. The price and quality of public transport should not be dependent on the competence of a company’s ability to trade in oil price futures.
In Sheffield we have a bus market of two major companies and although there are price differences, generally we end up with expensive fares. The Government has shown that it can intervene in markets to regulate rail prices. It should be the same with bus fares. Whilst we wait for the introduction of a regulated bus network, we must pressure First into suspending the fare rises.
Therefore we have written to the Office of Fair Trading asking them to investigate the behaviour of the bus operators. We are also asking all Sheffield MPs to support this request and to jointly propose a Parliamentary Early Day Motion asking for immediate Government intervention to get these rises suspended.
We could have been celebrating the return of buses on Boxing Day and New Year’s Day, resulting from a Green Party proposal in the 2008/9 budget. I hope everyone will use these buses but the festive mood will be dampened. If these rises go ahead, many vulnerable people who are struggling in the recession will be hit very hard. With lower petrol prices, further fare increases will send people back to their cars increasing congestion and air pollution in the city.
Sheffield Green Party