£15 million profit for Brighton Buses. Why are prices still going up and services being cut?
The newest development in the Brightonians vs Brighton & Hove Bus and Coach Company argument comes after it was reported the company made £15.6 million profit in the last year. They have recently raised 80% of their bus ticket prices with patrons seeing an increase in centre fares to yearly tickets. They have additionally cut night bus services on routes that travel far out of the city centre claiming they were “usually empty”, putting those who use those services in potential dangerous and uncomfortable situations. The price increases and route cuts affect the poorest in the city and this argument has seemingly been overlooked by the board of directors.
Transport campaigner Steve Percy told The Argus “Should these people get these amounts of money and cut the bus service? If you’re making that much money, you don’t need to cut the bus services. If a bus route isn’t making money they can afford to still run it if the other routes are making that much money.” M-Tickets, on the Bus app, were effected in the price increases as the City Centrefare went up from £2 to £2.10, the 60 minute saver from £2.40 to £2.60 and the one day saver from £4.20 to £4.40. The physical tickets were increased in the same way. Andrew Boag, chairman of Brighton and Hove Buswatch, said: “I am shocked and disappointed that fares have just been increased and night bus routes cut at a time when the company is making such healthy profits. I’m sure many users will feel outraged about having to pay more.”
The services are subsidised with £10 million from the council for concessionary fees for the elderly and disabled as well as an additional £1 million for ‘non-viable’ routes such as school buses and the 77 ‘Breeze Up To The Downs’. These subsidies are classed as needed but when the company is making a good profit it has to be questioned whether or not that amount could be lowered. To add some insult to injury, the 7 directors of the company split £2 million between them in their yearly wages. £778,000 was split between five directors on the managing board, one of which being Managing Director Martin Harris who received a tidy £205,000. Additionally, a further £1,223,000 was split between the two head’s at parent company Go-Ahead the Chief Executive, David Browan and Chief Financial Officer, Simon Butcher both on the board of directors for Brighton & Hove Bus and Coach Company. Martin Harris, the Managing Director said “We’re planning to openly report on exactly where our money goes to all of our customers and stakeholders and this will be available very soon. Our entire network is almost completely operated at commercial risk without subsidy, apart from a few school bus services and the Breeze up to the Downs buses.” When it comes down to it, people in Brighton are arguing that public transport should be for the people, not a profit-making venture for the seven men sitting at the top.