First Bus has announced it will be scrapping its four-week bus pass and replacing it with a new 10-week semester pass as of January 21.
The news was announced as part of a fares revision by First Bus, which will see the previous £30 pass withdrawn and a new 10-week pass priced at £80 introduced.
The Stirling Students’ Union broadcast a live feed with Union President Astrid Smallenbroek and VP Communities Jamie Grant exclaiming their frustration at First’s removal of the popular ticket.
The new ticket will also only be available on First’s mTicket smartphone app, which the VP Communities raised issues with.
Grant said: “You won’t be able to buy a paper ticket at the bus. Now, that is incredibly discriminatory if you don’t have an Internet-enabled phone, or if you don’t have data, so we will be taking them up on that.”
Smallenbroek stated the Union had invited First to attend the General Meeting this Thursday to discuss the changes to fares with students. There will also be a pre-arranged meeting on Friday between the Union, the university and First Bus, with Grant assuring the issue would be raised during the meeting.
The changes are to be brought in force on January 21, so there will no longer be an option for students to purchase a four-week ticket after this date. However, those with a live four-week ticket will still be able to use them.
Regarding the change, a First Bus spokesperson said: “Our fares are reviewed at least annually to ensure we are meeting both our commercial objectives and the needs of customers as closely as possible. In 2017, the 4-week Stirling University ticket saw a very poor uptake from students and as a result this ticket is being withdrawn.
“We meet regularly with university representatives to discuss issues concerning both services and fare levels. Feedback from a recent meeting included requests for more flexible and longer period tickets. In response to this feedback, we have introduced some new options to provide a more flexible range of options for students in the area.
“The first is the Stirling University Carnet ticket which offers students a new ten journey carnet ticket priced at £11. This maintains the current price of £1.10 per single journey and offers flexibility on use.
“The second is, as requested, a ten-week ticket priced at £80. This offers a small additional discount compared with existing tickets. We have also reduced the price of a weekly ticket for unlimited travel between the University and City Centre by £1 to £8.50.
“In summary, as a business we are confident we now offer a basket of fare options more relevant to the travel requirements of Stirling University students, whilst continuing to offer good value for money.”
It is not the first time the Union and First have been at loggerheads. In October, Brig reported that students travelling from one of First’s ‘zone areas’ were being asked to show a First Student ID card to receive student rates.
At the time, the Union said: “We understand that First Bus is undergoing a corporate restructure and that this will have impacted them, so we have been trying to get across the confusion and frustration that has been reported to us regarding the issue of valid student identify for their services.”
They added: “First Student ID cards are not required between the Stirling Rail Station and the University Campus on the direct UL route and services that serve this route.
“Services which require a First Student ID, as well as your regular student ID, include the 62A, 63A and 54 services. This is because these services diverge from the direct UL route.”
The Union encouraged students, as customers, to contact the company to provide feedback regarding the new fares.