A whopping 25 per cent hike has been agreed for ring and ride service fares in Wigan and Greater Manchester.
Under plans approved by the Transport for Greater Manchester, the basic fare is going up from £1.20 to £1.50 from this month. And holders of Concessionary Plus passes, who used to ride for free, will be subjected to a £1 fare.
Parents are also being told that the schools weekly pass, currently £7, will rise by around 3.6 per cent. The funding announcement comes as the grant for Greater Manchester Accessible Transport Ltd, which runs Ring and Ride, is cut by £300,000.
Last year the same service was subject to a 20 per cent fare hike, from £1 to £1.20, and the age limit for Ring and Ride from 60 to 70, for those without significant disabilities.
Before now the pricing structure had been supported by fares revenue and GMATL’s own reserves.
Bus chiefs, who have also been reviewing social car schemes for older travellers, have also not ruled out future cutbacks.
Steve Warrener, TfGM finance and corporate services director, said in a report: "The scrutiny panel also requested that the provision of accessible transport services by different organisations across Greater Manchester be further reviewed in order to ensure that the services are being delivered as effectively and efficiently as possible."
Ring and Ride also undertook an internal review which saw a number of drivers relocate from their Bolton garage to Wigan.
Earlier this year Howard Hartley, TfGM’s bus head, claimed users felt a price rise from £1.20 to £1.50 "would not be unwelcome" if it meant securing the service’s future.
Councillors have previously been told that the annual grant for GMATL for 2016-17 was £4.65m – but the operating costs topped £5.4m. TfGM bosses say they are already having to manage a number of cost pressures as a result of bus services’ being devolved across Greater Manchester.
This year’s transport levy for the region dropped by just over £5m, to £126.2m, and the amount of surplus cash and other reserves used to prop up the network is falling from £9.9m to £7.5m, it has been decided. Just under £4m has been allocated from Mayor Andy Burnham’s general fund. But an additional £2m is required, year-on-year, for concessionary schemes, supported services and accessible transport, the TfGM heard.