Friday, 28 July 2017

Bus Services in Orton: Not a Fair Fare

Julie standing by a Stagecoach bus
Stagecoach is the bus company that serves Orton

***UPDATE*** Stagecoach Dayrider prices in Peterborough to increase to £4.50 on 29th April 2018.

Peterborough is becoming horribly car-centric. I'm not anti-car. There are some journeys where a car is more than desirable, it's essential. But if you don't drive or if you choose not to drive unless it's absolutely necessary then you rely on a safe, convenient and affordable local bus service.

The problem facing people who live in the Ortons is that we don't have an affordable bus service. The lack of an affordable bus service is becoming a big problem, not only for local people but for the independent businesses in Peterborough that rely on our custom.

Many (not all, but many) of the people who rely on buses have lower incomes. The price of a return ticket to central Peterborough from anywhere in the Ortons is £4.30. This is the price of a Dayrider, which is the ticket that will allow you to make unlimited journeys in the area on a single day. Put like that, the price sounds like good value for money. However, if all you want to do is travel into town and back, it's expensive. For some people, prohibitively so.

It is little surprise that local people are turning to each other via 'buy and sell' sites on Facebook rather than travel into town by bus to pick up the items they want to buy.

It is also little surprise that people give, trade or sell on their Dayriders when they no longer need them. For some people £4.30 is the price of a daily meal. People should not have to choose between food and fares.

I can think of many occasions where I've decided not to travel into town to go shopping or attend an event as I cannot justify spending £4.30 to do so. If I'm not the only person faced with this decision then it's clear that the shops and events in Peterborough are missing out on custom. I wonder whether they are even aware of it.

Julie reading a bus timetable
Our bus services are infrequent, unreliable and expensive

Does this sound reasonable to you?

If you think £4.30 for a return into Peterborough from anywhere in Orton is reasonable, I wonder what you think of this....

Bus ticket
My 1.3 mile return journey cost £4.30.
I only had a fiver on me and was thinking I could buy a paper 
and a drink after the litter pick with the change.

I take part in a voluntary litter pick group one Wednesday morning per month. I do not drive, so to get to Orton Waterville I need to take the bus. The closest bus to me is the hourly 23/24 from Lynchwood and I get off the bus outside The Windmill pub on Cherry Orton Road in Orton Waterville. This is a journey of 1.3 miles.

I have multiple sclerosis, and while I can walk 1.3 miles, it's a little bit too far for me to walk to then walk a few more miles carrying an increasingly heavy bag of litter. The journey by bus takes three minutes to take me there and a further three minutes to take me back. The price? £4.30. So it costs me exactly the same for a ticket that allows me to make unlimited journey across the city in a single day as it does for me to make two 3-minute journeys of just 1.3 miles. This is not reasonable.

It is costing me the best part of a fiver to volunteer in my community. £4.30 flat fare for a return of less than 2 miles each way is not a fair fare.

Map of bus journey
The blue line shows the 1.3 mile journey that takes just 3 minutes but costs £4.30 return

The private bus company that operates in the Ortons is Stagecoach. As passengers, we can't choose a cheaper bus company because their isn't one. There is no competition between bus companies in Orton (there is in other parts of the city but not here), so prices have been allowed to climb and climb.

This is all about profits over people. Yet if the bus was more affordable surely more people would use it.

I don't expect to ride the bus for free at my age. But smaller journeys should be affordable. A journey of 6 minutes total journey time should be £2.50 tops in my opinion.

Do you rely on the bus service to get from Orton to Peterborough? Do you find it prohibitively expensive? Let me know what you think.

On 18th July 2017, I gave an interview to BBC Radio Cambs about the problems created by expensive bus fares in Orton.


  1. I totally agree with you that £4.30 is a ridiculous price for one person to get a bus ride this is the reason why I don't get buses as a family of five I just could not afford to go 2 or 3 times a week to go to town. This is why i use a car.1 its cheeper and 2 i guarantee aseat for myself and family without any trouble on buses and having to hang around at bus stops in all types of weather. And lastly you bang on about orton for the costs it's not just the orton's its the whole Peterborough

    1. You're not alone. The idea that Peterborough calls itself an 'Environmental City' while virtually forcing people to drive even short distances is becoming a bit of a joke (and not a funny one). It is indeed all of Peterborough (I only talk about Orton here as this is where I'm a parish councillor, but the problem is indeed citywide, and I'm told it's just the same in Cambridge too).

  2. ridiculously expensive, if a parent with 2/3children it's cheaper to get taxis. We need a competitive bus service!

    1. Indeed we do, Carol. Buses are another example of an essential community service that should be run for the benefit of the community, not for profit for private companies.

  3. Totally agree that it is very expensive, for many reasons, one the bus service is actually never on time and you end up with 1/2/3 buses turning up at the same time, so whilst we pay the current price you can never get anywhere on time either so it's a complete rip off, I have to travel to college and back which requires 2 buses which run supposedly every 10 mins whoever it takes me a good 45/60 mins to even get there and the longest part of my journey is getting from orton into queeensgate which usually takes a good 30/40 mins! Something should be done about the price and the efficiency of the bus times. Orton is a busy place it's a massive estate and has many businesses so this would help a lot of people and businesses of this issue was no longer an issue. Even travelling with children is expensive. Just to go to ferry meadows from orton is a rip off on the bus sometimes your better off getting a taxi for timing and costs.

    1. It's becoming clear that this is a very big problem for people in Orton, one the city council and, indeed, the new mayor of Cambridgeshire & Peterborough should be addressing. That message, that people are turning to taxis because there is no faith in the bus service, is damning and needs to be heard.