A candidate to become the first elected mayor of Bristol has said bringing down rail fares has to be a priority for whoever gets the job.
Labour’s candidate Marvin Rees was speaking after it emerged yesterday that fares in the region could rise by as much as 10%, after higher than expected inflation levels were recorded.
Rail operators are allowed to set average rises up to 3% above July’s inflation rate of 3.2%. But some tickets could go up by more than 10%, as long as prices on other routes are kept low.
If the 6.2% rise was applied to Bristol to Bath season tickets, commuters would see costs rise from £1,400 to £1,486 in January. A peak-time return ticket from Temple Meads to Paddington would rise from £179 to £190.
Mr Rees said he would work to reduce fares if elected, but did not give any details as to how he may be able to achieve that.
“Transport costs in Bristol are already far too expensive. We have some of the highest charges in the country on both trains and buses and this is the worst possible news for local commuters,” he said.
“The elected Mayor has to view our high transport costs as a priority and use the powers of the office to bring those costs down.
“When many working people are seeing their wages held down an increase of at least treble inflation is just unfair. I am committed to finding a way to reduce the costs of local transport that will boost Bristol’s economy, ease the pressure on our roads, and put public transport at the centre of a modern city.”
Campaigners from several groups gathered at Bristol Temple Meads for a protest against the potential price rises, joining other protests across the UK.
Passenger groups said the increase was too steep.
“This is another inflation-busting increase – there is only so much you can squeeze passengers,” said Mike Hewitson from watchdog Passenger Focus.
“The government needs to think again about the plus 3% [formula].”