11 December 2013

Fare enough for First?

First Devon & Cornwall have given details of their new timetable for the Tavistock services in January:

5 January 2014 First 83 86

There are a few small changes to timetables due to Devon County Council awarding us the tender to operate evening journeys. As the Sunday daytime timetable is now operated wholly on a commercial basis (no journeys are financially supported by Devon County Council), this means tickets sold by other operators will no longer be valid for use on return journeys during the daytime. However, as evening journeys are supported by Devon County Council (after 1835) tickets sold by other operators may be used on these return journeys. All evening journeys from Plymouth will now depart from Royal Parade, Stand A19 (and no longer serve the bus station). New paper timetable guides will be available from our travel shops in Plymouth Bus Station and The George Park & Ride from 18 December.

First Devon 12 Dec 2013

Timetable PDF

The most interesting news coming from First though is from their Cornwall operations:


5 January 2014 First Cornwall Fares

On 5 January were changing the types of tickets we sell, and their prices. Please read the information below which we've put together to help explain what the changes are and why we are making them.
Are fares going up?
Yes, many people will find their fares have increased, although a number will find theirs have been reduced.
Why are fares going up?
There are a number of reasons why we need to increase the fares we charge. All of them are to do with covering the increased costs of running buses.
Are all the fares rising by the same amount?
No. Weve taken the decision to overhaul all our fares, to provide a much simpler set of fares that can be easily understood and communicated to customers. It means there will be fewer fares for single and return journeys, and there will be a new range of tickets for people who travel regularly.
Why change the ticket types?
Our existing tickets havent been reviewed for many, many years.
We want to have a range of easy to understand tickets. Tickets that are easy to choose between and are attractive and simple enough to appeal to visitors as well as local residents.
Will some ticket types disappear?
Yes. Well be keeping single and return tickets, but all the existing passes will be replaced by a range of 1, 2, 3 and 7 day tickets and a month ticket. The current 10 and 14 journey tickets will no longer be available, and neither will tickets over a month long.
Will there still be child tickets?
Yes, and we are extending the ages covered by child tickets to 5-16 years inclusive.
Will the child discount be changing?
Yes, child fares will be reduced to half of the full adult fare. Child versions of every ticket will be available, at half the adult fare.
Will dog fares be going up?
We are removing the charge for dogs altogether.
Will return fares be changing?
Although many of our fares are increasing, we are improving the discount return fares offer over buying two single tickets. Return fares will now be one and a half times the single fare.
We are also changing the conditions of return fares. Return tickets will now be valid for up to 5 days from the date the ticket was purchased.
Will 1 and 3 day tickets still be sold?
Yes. Were also introducing a 2 day ticket. So well be offering 1,2,3 and 7 day tickets and a month tickets.
Will Family Tickets be Changing?
We are increasing our range of family tickets. Well now offer 1, 2, 3 and 7 day family tickets. Family ticket prices will be based on the price of 2 adults, meaning that children are free.
Were also removing the limit on the number of children who can travel on a family ticket. They will allow travel for up to two adults and an unlimited number of children.
Will the concession pre 9.30am post 11pm ticket still be available?
Yes, our revised 'Early Bird' ticket is available to concession and disabled pass holders for travel before 9.30am and after 11pm. The price is now £2.00 for any single trip.
What will I pay from 5 January?
- Single and returns -
Current single fare 90p - £2.00 New single fare £2.00 New return fare £3.00
Current single fare £2.05 - £2.95 New single fare £3.00 New return fare £4.50
Current single fare £3.00 - £4.20 New single fare £4.00 New return fare £6.00
Current single fare £4.20 - £6.95 New single fare £5.00 New return fare £7.50
- Multi use tickets -
Cornwall 1 day: Adult £10.00, Child £5.00, Family £20.00 Cornwall 2 day: Adult £15.00, Child £7.50, Family £30.00 Cornwall 3 day: Adult £20.00, Child £10.00, Family £40.00 Cornwall 7 day: Adult £25.00, Child £12.50, Family £50.00 Cornwall Month: Adult £100.00, Child £50.00, Family n/a
To view the above information and fares in an A5 leaflet format (which can also be printed) please click below. Copies of this leaflet will also be available on bus and from our travel shops in Penzance and Truro bus stations from 16 December.

First Devon 12 Dec 2013


There is a lot to take in with with these massive changes and I am sure it will take a day or two before the full impact starts to reach people in Cornwall as some people will see some very steep rises in fares (90p to £2 single is a noticeable increase!) whilst some will clearly see reductions (£6.95 single down to £5) The much more simple fare structure is a brave one as its a big jump between fares – an extra stop could end up costing £1 extra! First are clearly wanting to push people to their multi-use tickets but these are not cheap! The current Day ticket for Cornwall is £7.20 for an adult – now up to £10. Ouch!

The most interesting change is the “unlimited number of children” on the family ticket. That is a brave move and one which potentially opens up a minefield. Do users have to prove that all the children with them are family members? It has to be noted that the £20 family ticket is up from the current £12.40 although limited to 2 adults and 3 children. These increase put the tickets on the same prices as the current Ride Cornwall ticket at £10 adult and £20 family (3 children) which is of course valid on all operators buses and the trains so seems much better value.

It will be very interesting over the coming days to see the public response to these changes.

Plymothian Bus Services: First Tavistock 83 86 Page

Public Transpott Experience: Mikey was in the office watching the tracker, monitoring the slow progress of buses around the network and tweeting regular updates to the world

Southern England Bus Scene: This week, we will be looking at some recent old photos from the island, looking at Southern Vectis.

The Circle of London However no one can disagree that the Bus scene in London is becoming increasingly boring,

Ian Visits: A little over 100 years ago a radical new form of underground railway was proposed — a monorail of most unusual design, but one that would be designed like an underground roller coaster with sharp declines and ascents between stations

Leon Daniels:Regular readers will remember the story from four years ago, the one about the old London bus we found in France - of all places.

Southern England Former London United Dennis Dart 817 (G526VYE) was bought in around the turn of the millenium

Southern England 743 is one of only two Olympians native to Southern Vectis to still be in service with the company.

Public Transport Experience: Chiltern Railways will open the first new rail link between two major British cities (Oxford and London!) for 100 years

Public Transport Experience Bicester has gown so much, the council tax payers were told, that it needed better shopping and leisure facilities as befits a vibrant and growing community. Or, to paraphrase, there's cash to be grabbed so grab it.


  1. On Cornwall fares some of your assumptions aren't correct. the day ticket is aimed squarely at the visitor market. For locals the £7.20 First Day ticket had become the default for return journeys where the cost was £7.20 or greater. the new return fares are a 1.5 multiple of the new singles. The comparable change is from a £7.20 First Day to a maximum of £7.50 for a return, not from £7.20 to £10.00. The Family Day ticket is currently £18, not £12.40. Of course people won't have to prove that children are their family members - the whole point of the change is that First has accepted that there is no restriction on the number of children. In reality how many children travel with adults? This simply avoids saying 2,3,4,5 etc. Is it really the most interesting change? Would have thought that the most interesting change was the extension of child fare to 16 years, and the reduction in child fares to half of the adult fare. £25 for a week's season ticket isn't unreasonable. At last, a clear simple set of fares that have a relationship to one another and that are simple enough to actually articulate and market to customers and visitors!

    1. Thanks fro your comments. I can see where you are coming from in your first argument - which maybe valid in the circumstances you point out - but many people will use a day ticket for other reasons. If you have to change buses or break a journey then a day ticket is the choice over a day return and there is no escaping the fact that the price has gone up to £10 from £7.20.
      As for the family day ticket, I took the current price of £12,40 from First website (http://www.firstgroup.com/ukbus/devon_cornwall/tickets/cornwall/firstday.php) so if its wrong then I apologise - but so are they!
      I agree with your last points - it is a nice simple fare structure and yes it is good to see better reductions for children and the age range extended.
      The reason I pointed out the extension of the family ticket is that this is a big change which I have not seen offered anywhere else and will make life a lot easier for larger families - this has to be applauded. It is open to a bit of abuse but as you point out this will probably be limited.
      One thing I have just noticed which is interesting is the extended day return now valid for up to five days - that is a very useful extra from First. All in all there are some very good ideas here from First and its nice to see them experimenting with tickets to try and do something different - but it cant hide the fact that many passengers will see some pretty steep fare increases.

  2. So if a school wants to take a class of 30 kids on a school trip they can just buy a family ticket and all hop on a single bus.

  3. Very few day tickets are bought by locals for connecting journeys. There is a plan to deal with those that do exist but as the second stage of the fare revision. This is perhaps the first visible sign that First has a proper new strategy for Cornwall. There are always steep increases when you coarsen the fares so yes some people will pay more. However, as First say quite openly, the changes also have to address the true costs of running buses in Cornwall. The simple fact is that without this restructuring of fares, along with a whole range of other planned actions, there wouldn't be many bus services left in West Cornwall. No doubt First will get a lot of flack for the changes, but at last they are getting to grips with this business. Watch this space!

    1. You are right - major action is / was needed if bus services are going to survive in West Cornwall! First are going to have to explain this over and over again. We can only look forward to the next stage in this planned strategy and hope for everyone's sake it works. It will be interesting to see how the fare structure develops over time. Plymouth Citybus tried it a while back but it wasnt popular and was soon rolled back into a more conventional structure with more fare levels for each route. Of course the Plymouth City network is a very different thing than the Cornish route network so it may well work in Cornwall.

    2. Where they provide similar journeys, how will First's new fare structure compare with Western Greyhound's?

      One problem both operators are having to cope with is cuts by Cornwall Council - both in the level of concessionary fare reimbursement and in the amount of subsidy they can put into the non-commercial network. This is why WG pulled out of Penzance entirely.


  4. Except a school group won't will they because they have a legal adult to child ratio lower than the fifteen children per adult that your scenario would create. In practical terms no sane 2 adults would take that many children out with them though would they. But at the end of the day as First have clearly decided, if someone does its not the end of the world, and probably very good for their PR on the very rare occasions when it does happen. better to have £20 and some very happy customers than no money. Great marketing initiative. Pay for two adults and all the kids are free.

  5. Or maybe Cornwall County Council will have to explain it when they decide what tendered bus services will remain in the ongoing exercise to rest endear every current bus tender in the County?

  6. For a rural route, I agree that a £2 minimum single fare will not be too much of a penalty. However, First have town/city services in Truro, Falmouth and Camborne/Redruth which people use for quite short journeys - just as they do in Plymouth. There just might still be some small operators who will take them on on those.


    1. On which probably 90 % of the passengers are laps who don't pay but for whom the payment to first will rise? You can afford to lose the 10% who pay I guess if you get double the payment for the 90% who have passes? Another of the realities of free travel and the entirely academic method that government applies to how it is funded in its bid to pay as little as possible to bus operators. If you want to blame anyone fo high minimum fares, it's government you should be aiming for. Cornwall pays 50% of the current 95p minimum fare - that's 47.5p per journey. Try running a bus used mostly by laps at that fare - impossible. And remember that Cornwall tried to pay LESS than 50% until Western Greyhound threatened to close their business in response.


Have something interesting to say? Please share it here!

(Moderation is currently switched on so please allow a short while before your comment appears on the site. This is only to cut down on spam - not to cut out people who disagree with me!)