New P&R smartcard ‘doesn’t address pricing issues’

A new Smartcard ticketing system introduced this week on Bath’s Park and Rides does not address issues with the pricing structure, Conservative councillors have warned.

Conservatives in the city have welcomed the roll-out of Smartcards on local buses as a ‘step in the right direction’, but have said the Council still needs to look into the pricing system on Bath’s Park and Rides.

The new Smartcards were introduced on the city’s Park and Rides this week, with the possibility of them eventually being extended to other local bus services as part of a West of England-wide initiative.

However, purchasing the new Smartcard does not reduce the cost of using the Park and Rides, which is priced at £3.20 for a weekday return journey or £13 for a block of ten single journeys.

Conservative councillors have previously called for a cheaper monthly or season ticket to be introduced on the Park and Rides to attract more commuters onto the service. They have also called for a discounted ‘group ticket’ to be introduced to address the problem that it is currently cheaper for a car load of four people to drive into the city centre to park than use the Park and Rides.

Conservative Shadow Transport spokesman, Cllr Anthony Clarke (Cons, Lansdown), said:

“Introducing an Oyster-style smartcard system for travel across the West of England is something which has been discussed for many years and is much needed to encourage more people onto public transport. So this new smartcard on the Park and Rides is definitely a step in the right direction.

“However, this new card does not address issues with the pricing structure on the Park and Rides and is not really akin to London’s Oyster card. It still won’t be possible for commuters to purchase a discounted monthly or season pass, and it will still be cheaper for a car loaded with four people to drive past the Park and Rides and carry on into the city centre to park for the day.

“There are two key elements to the Oyster card which make it so successful: first the fact it can be used across various modes of public transport, including bus and train; and secondly that it automatically calculates the cheapest fare for all the journeys made on any given day. You can also top it up automatically.

“The smartcards FirstBus are introducing don’t currently do this, which is what the Council should be striving towards to make all modes of public transport a genuinely attractive alternative.”