FARES and charges for local authority-run transport services look set to rise by up to ten per cent, despite concerns the changes could hit women, rural residents, those on low incomes, older people, those with a disability and some people from ethnic minorities. 

A North Yorkshire County Council meeting later this week is set to hear many of its transport services, ranging from park and ride to community transport, have not been increased for a number of years, leading to them falling behind the fares charged on similar services.

An officers’ report to senior councillors and officers states the income from fares is used to partially offset the operating costs of providing services and it was “not appropriate” for services directly operated by the council to charge lower fares than other similar services.

It states increases of between four and ten per cent were proposed last year, but the rises were not implemented due to the Covid -19 pandemic. It is now proposed to introduce the increases from April 5.

The report states the council and bus operators are receiving a Covid-19 support grant from the Government to support local bus services seeing fewer passengers to ensure that sufficient bus services continue to operate in the right places, and at the right times of day, during the outbreak.

The document states as the main objectives of the park and ride service in Whitby are to remove traffic from the town centre, cut congestion and decrease demand for parking, fares need to be attractive compared to the town centre parking charges.

Officers said the proposed increases represent “a fair and proportionate amount compared to inflation to cover the cost increases to the council over the last two years”. 

“This proposal has no direct impact on most groups of people with protected characteristics,” officers said.

“However, it is recognised that increasing some charges does have a minor impact on older people, people with a disability, females and some people from ethnic minorities, as they are more likely to travel by bus. However, given the existence of the concessionary travel scheme those people eligible for a pass will be insulated from the impacts of local bus fare rises given they are entitled to travel free. People living in rural areas and on a low income may also be adversely impacted and may not be eligible for a concessionary fare so will not be insulated as highlighted above.”

The report states officers were aware of the impact and potential effects the proposed increases and would monitor the situation.