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Issue 13 - June 1973
Taken For A Ride

Any illusions that the big three bus companies operating in the north-east were actually concerned about the people they grossly overcharge for a dismally inefficient service were well and truly dissolved at a recent hearing by the Traffic Commissioners in Durham.

Once again Northern General, Venture Transport and United Automobiles were applying for increases in their already inflated fares.

Once again they were granted permission for an increase in their already inflated fares.

And the trivial objection that it might cause hardship, particularly to people who live in rural areas - well, that sort of went by the board somehow.

And what about schoolchildren who must travel by bus if they are to get to school?

Not our problem, see your education committee.

All of which is pretty marvellous. If you've got shares in a bus company.

But the question which immediately comes to mind is why increase the fares at all? F D Walker, representing the bus companies (yes, all of them, rivals though they be) stated glibly that in 1972 UAS carried 6½ million more passengers than in 1971.

If one is to presume that these 6½ million were all paying their bus fares (and have you ever tried to skip your fare on a United bus?) where has all the extra money gone? On rising costs they tell us gravely.

Fancy. The bus companies have got rising costs. Who the hell hasn't? But our income hasn't increased as dramatically as theirs.

But they've got to keep their surplus up.

Well, let's just take a look at this ailing surplus which is causing so much concern.

Last year they reckoned, what with the recession and general good sense on the part of the average citizen who preferred to walk than to be overcharged, their surplus would probably be a miserable £774,000. Peanuts, you may say.

Yet when it was all worked out, with the relevant deductions it worked out at £868,000, which according to my rather shaky arithmetic (you don't have this problem with my kind of money) gives an extra £94,000.

Well, as we all know to our cost (pun) they got their increase. They are all very happy. And it costs me an extra 1p to travel to work in the morning.

What about the people in rural areas? How much extra does it cost them to travel to the town?

Footnote for anyone travelling to Newcastle from Durham: bus fare from one bus station to the other - 21p ... train fare - 19p. Guess who isn't travelling by bus? All that extra 2p for the privilege of stopping every 100 yards. Lovely thought isn't it?