The Mancunion

Britain's biggest student newspaper

New bus pass not possible until April 2018

Controversy surrounds the creation of an affordable “pass accepted by First and Stagecoach”, a stated priority of the General Secretary

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An affordable bus pass that can be used by both First and Stagecoach cannot be created until at least April of 2018, it has emerged.

During his campaign to be General Secretary, Tayler said that one of his main priorities during his term of office would be to try and “create a [bus] pass accepted by First and Stagecoach.”

Alex met with Greater Manchester Combined Authority’s Head of Strategy and Policy Development, John Wrathmell, last week to discuss transport in and around Manchester, and the Students’ Union recently ran a transport survey to capture students’ thoughts on the issue.

Following the meeting, Tayler said: “it will not be possible to have a new bus pass by the end of the year.”

Explaining why this was the case, Alex said: “My understanding is that although the Bus Services Act was passed earlier this year, new powers are not fully granted to devolved government until April 2018.

“Before then, bus companies are effectively prohibited from collaborating on ticketing as it would breach competition laws that were put in place when bus services were privatised and deregulated.”

At present, a ‘System One’ pass which can be used on both bus services does exist but can only be bought monthly and costs around £600 a year— significantly higher than Stagecoach’s annual ‘Unirider’ bus pass at £235 and Stagecoach’s 7-day ‘Megarider’ ticket which costs £8.00 — meaning that it is not an affordable option for many students.

In light of the recently reported muggings, attacks and sexual assaults that have occurred in and around South Manchester, an affordable bus pass that could be used on both bus services could be hugely valuable to students.

Muggings have been reportedly most likely to take place between 1:30AM and 3:30AM and a pass of this kind would allow students to jump on any bus during a night out, as opposed to waiting around at a bus stop specifically for a ‘Magic Bus’ as lots of students do at present.

The benefit of the pass in this sense was something that Alex identified himself during a press briefing with The Mancunion.

The General Secretary said that ” further meetings are being planned to discuss this and other transport issues further”, adding that he was “optimistic that many positive changes to transport in Manchester are on the horizon.”

Another issue discussed at the meeting was cross-city travel, which has been argued to have become more difficult for students and increasingly requiring the purchase of tickets for multiple operators.

Alex also discussed how “the significant increase in the cost of most single tickets from £1 to £1.50 has proved problematic for most students and there has been no service improvement.”

He also raised the suggestion that “many students that voted for Andy Burnham feel that he is not living up to promises on improving the public transport, with several respondents claiming that transport was a major reason why they would not consider remaining in Manchester.”

Overall, the General Secretary described  the meeting with GMCA as “really positive” and said that he wanted to “thank the local authorities for taking student concerns seriously.”