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Mini bus price hike fury

PUBLISHED: 05:47 27 February 2003 | UPDATED: 16:20 24 February 2010

A DECISION to increase fares on a community mini-bus scheme was described by its co-ordinator as "crazy".

The management committee of the Borderhoppa , a dial-a-ride scheme for people living in villages in the Eye and Diss area, has agreed to back a move by Suffolk County Council to increase fares to bring it line with other similar projects throughout the county.

A DECISION to increase fares on a community mini-bus scheme was described by its co-ordinator as "crazy".

The management committee of the Borderhoppa , a dial-a-ride scheme for people living in villages in the Eye and Diss area, has agreed to back a move by Suffolk County Council to increase fares to bring it line with other similar projects throughout the county.

The move was opposed in vain by the scheme's co-ordinator, Jen Larner and her staff of three.

"We would rather have a full bus of people paying less, than a half-full bus of people paying more.

"Raising the fares defeats the object of this scheme which is to help relieve social isolation. The danger is that people will no longer go where can but only go where they can afford to go," Ms Larner said.

The two Borderhoppa mini-buses, which serve 24 villages on the Suffolk side of the county border, are used by a variety of people from infirm pensioners to young mothers with children.

Current fares are £2 for return trips within the village of the passenger and £3 for return trips to other destinations such as Eye or Diss for shopping or to attend a doctor's appointment.

Under the new fare structure pushed through by Suffolk County Council delegates on the management committee the costs will, from April, be increased to £2.40 and £4 and, by 2004/5 will be based on the mileage covered - £2.50 for up to five miles, £4.20 for 5-7 miles and £5 for over seven miles.

Ms Larner said Norfolk County Council had been quite happy to keep the existing fares and, unlike the situation in Suffolk, residents on the other side of the county border could also get concessionary fares using their bus passes.

"Unlike Suffolk, Norfolk has no uniform approach to dial-a-ride schemes and the fares in different areas are different. "We are not at all happy with the changes. It is a crazy thing to do," she added.

Mitchell Bradshaw, public transport manager for Suffolk County Council, said: "We are changing the fare structure in line with our pricing scheme over two years. This will mean that fares will be based on mileage as with other community transport services in the county.

"It will mean that people who take shorter trips will benefit from lower fares and people who take longer trips will pay more."


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