Tuesday 23 December 2014

First Fares Explained - Sort Of!

Those of you who are as old as me (over 24) might remember an American sitcom of the 70's called Soap. At the start of every programme they would run down the current synopsis involving a multitude of characters, finishing with the words "Confused? You won't be after watching this week's episode of 'Soap'!" After trying to explain the new First fares which apply from January I may need to use the same phrase, except I can't promise anyone will be none the wiser after I've attempted to make head or tail of today's announcement.

NI had already planned to make a post explaining why fares will still go up despite the recent crash in fuel prices. Quite simply the vast majority of firms buy their fuel a year in advance, known as "hedging", which means at the moment they will be paying a higher price for the fuel than it is at the pumps. Next year may well see firms benefit if prices remain low for a considerable amount of time, but don't expect that to be passed onto the passenger. There has been much spluttering and political style answers from various people in the industry I've spoken to regarding passing on fuel savings to the customer!

The ususal reaction when cheaper fares are mentioned!
So obviously being aware of this today First announced that many fares were being frozen, some were going down and those rising only going up the rate of inflation - "While some passengers may experience an increase in fares, we have tried to limit this as much as possible and keep any rises in line with inflation."- which right now stands at 1% due to oh yes cheaper fuel prices! OK so let's analyse that. Let's start in Norwich.

If you pay a single fare and currently pay £1.10, £2.10 or £3.00 then your fare is frozen. However if you pay £1.30 you might expect it to go up by a penny or so which is the inflation rate. Not so as it's going up 10p which is a rise of 7.69%. If you normally pay £2.50 that's going up to £2.60 which is still a 4% rise.

Where Norwich benefit are the multi trip tickets, with one glaring exception. A Norwich 2-trip ticket rises 10p to £4.30  (2.38%), however an Inner 2-Trip and Norwich Day ticket remain unchanged. But a Norwich Weekly drops from £19 to £18, a Norwich 10-Trip drops from £18.50 to £17, and a Norwich Monthly drops from £66 to £63. Now anyone getting on a First bus recently will have noticed a big green hand staring you in the face advertising the Hi-5 ticket - they are really pushing this ticket so of course in the Norwich area this has gone up from £7.50 to £8. A rise of 6.66%.


If you think Norwich was confusing you aint seen nothing yet! Starting with single fares the number of single fares in the Yarmouth area is doubling from 2 to 4. So if you currently pay £1.30 you will either pay £1.10 or £1.40, and if you currently pay £2.50 you'll either pay £2.10 (very good) or £2.60. Single and return fares outside the Yarmouth area will remain unchanged.

On the Multi-ticket side a Yarmouth Day ticket goes up 10p to £4.30 (2.38%), the Weekly remians at 315 but the much publicised Hi-5 goes up a quid to £7.50 - a rise of 14.4%.

Now it gets compicated. Currently there is a YarLow ticket and a YarLowXtra ticket which encompasses a wider area. So now only the YarLowXtra will remian, which means if you currently use a YarLow ticket you are in for a pleasant surprise. Although if you use a YarLow Day ticket you'll have to pay an extra 50p to £6.50 (8.3% rise) it is the same cost of a YarLowXtra ticket now. However if you currently buy a weekly YarLow at £20 that remains the same but you get the extra area, meaning a weekly Xtra ticket goes down a pound to £20. Even better is the 10-trip ticket which reduces to £19 from £20 YarLow and £21 Xtra. The bad news is the current YarLow Hi-5 goes up a whopping 25% to £10 but does include the wider area.


Still with me? Well done! Lowestoft is a mixed bag with single fares rising but returns falling. If you pay £1.20 single you'll now pay £1.30 (8.6% rise but still cheaper than Anglian's £1.40). The £2.00 single remains the same and the £2.40 single rises to £2.50 (4.3%). However the £2.00 return remains the same, the £3.30 return falls to £3.00 and the £3.80 return falls to £3.50.

The Lowestoft 2-Trip ticket is withdrawn and the Lowestoft Day ticket falls from £4.80 to £4.50. However the Weekly rises from £14.50 to £15.00 (3.45%) and the Hi-5 rises from £6.50 to £7.00 (7.2%).

If you live in Beccles it's not very good news. The Beccles - Lowestoft £3.00 return is rising to £3.50 (16.6%) and the Monthly X2 ticket currently £60 is being replaced by the YarLowXtra or Norwich Weekly at either £70 or £63 respectfully.


Basically if you live in Ipswich you are likely to benefit, if you don't you'll pay more. I think I'll just paste from the First website as it explains it all perfectly adquately. Suffice it to say there's not a single fare that rises by only 1%. My apologies for the slightly wayward layout below but it looks perfect on the draft page and even this took me far longer than it would have done to just describe the fares as I have in the above sections! Seemed like a good idea at the time but pdf to Blogger doesn't paste well!

Single and return fares to be revised as follows:

             Adult                           Adult                                 Child                                 Child
             Single                         Return                               Single                                 Return
Current           New           Current        New           Current      New                 Current             New
    n/a             £1.00               n/a         £1.60                n/a         £0.70                    n/a               £1.20
  £1.50          no change      £2.20      no change        £1.10        £1.00                 £1.50       no change
  £1.90           £2.00               n/a        £3.50               £1.40       £1.50                     n/a               £2.50
  £2.10           £2.00            £3.40       £3.50               £1.50     no change            £2.30              £2.50
  £2.60          no change        n/a         £4.70               £1.90      no change               n/a              £3.20
  £2.80          £2.90             £4.70       £4.90               £2.00        £2.10                 £3.20             £3.30
  £3.40          £3.50             £5.70       £5.80               £2.40        £2.50                 £4.00       no change
  £4.10         £4.20             £6.70       £6.80                £2.90        £3.00                 £4.60              £4.70

Endeavour fares adjusted accordingly

Return fares introduced on all sections of routes in zone 1 and Stowmarket

Period/multi-journey ticket prices to be revised as follows:

                                                    Adult                                                        Young Person
                                     Current                    New                        Current                       New
Ipswich Zone 1 Day      £5.00                 no change                      £3.50                     no change
Ipswich Zone 1 Week   £15.00               no change                     £10.00                   no change
Ipswich Zone 1 10-trip £15.00               no change                     £10.00                   no change
Ipswich Zone 2 Day     £7.00                 no change                      £4.90                        £5.00
Ipswich Zone 2 Week   £21.00                 £22.00                         £14.00                      £15.00
Ipswich Zone 2 10-trip £21.00               no change                      £14.00                    no change
Felixstowe Day             £3.80                   £3.90                           £2.70                     no change
Felixstowe Week              n/a                    £12.00                            n/a                          £9.00
Ipswich Zone 1 Hi 5     £7.50                    £8.00
Ipswich Zone 2 Hi 5     £9.50                 £10.00

A new ticket for those travelling between Dereham and Peterborough is to be introduced, if they can understand the destination screens that is, and all Whole Network tickets are going up. In conclusion it could have been a whole lot worse, but there again not even First are mad enough to put fares up wholesale when fuel prices are crashing. They need to persuade people not to go back to their cars with the cheaper running costs. Will this fares package do the trick?  I Doubt it as the longer distance traveller doesn't gain much at all, and they were the ones that needed the most sweet talking. Just one thing - don't make false claims. Not a single fares rise has been kept to the rate of inflation,and to claim so is a little bit naughty.


  1. Ah, the old "if you can't convince them, confuse them"! I optimistically thought we might get an indication of how well (or ill) the margins and profits are doing. The conclusion: nobody has any idea. Some of the smaller co's seem to manage publish their fare tables, and a "fare calculator" for multiple journeys. Dear old Wirst have got themselves in such a muddle, that'd be impossible. Never mind, it could be worse, Essex can't sort out their timetables even after weeks of trying, constantly. Let's just put it down to an early excess of Christmas cheer! Merry Christmas, everybody.

  2. First in Essex have got some fare revisions (increases) through the back door. The monthly tickets across the network are to be replaced with 4 weekly tickets. At face value, they represent great value but over a year, will cost more than the current set up. Fortunately, I'm in a position to buy an annual network ticket and they've been left alone for a couple of years.