Councillor Says Buzza Bus Fare Rise Is Wrong

buzza-busA former Chairman of Scilly’s Council, Colin Daly, says it was wrong for a committee to recommend increasing Buzza Bus fares by 50% in a meeting held behind closed doors.

The public were excluded from the part of the Community Services meeting where a recommendation was made to hike single fares from £1 to £1.50.

The service is operated for the Council by Age Concern UK.

Chair of Community Services, Cllr Richard McCarthy, says they had legal advice that they couldn’t discuss it publicly, because they were talking about an Age Concern employee.

The service receives a government grant to provide a pick up and drop off request service on St Mary’s and is the island’s response to the free bus pass, which mainland residents enjoy when they reach retirement.

Richard says the planned increase was backed by users and Age UK at a meeting last month.

The service started in 2010 and fares haven’t gone up since. Richard says the rates were originally set low to stimulate use among the elderly and others with reduced mobility and help them access services.

None of Age UK’s similar services in Cornwall are as cheap, he says, and they need to put aside cash for a replacement in the future.

Councillors on the P&R Committee will have the final say on the price rise tonight but Cllr Daly is urging them to throw out the recommendation and leave the fares as they are.

Colin says the service doesn’t make a loss. In fact, he says, it makes a profit, which is expected to be £75,000 over five years. He believes a replacement, when it’s due, can be paid out of that existing money and the price rise will be taking money from people who are already vulnerable.

Colin felt discussion was curtailed in the Community Services meeting and he wants it properly discussed by Full Council. And he says it’s an issue that the public should have been informed about

Cllr McCarthy says no-one enjoys putting prices up and if the decision is confirmed, the situation will be monitored to see if there is any impact on numbers.