The Students’ Union’s “Taken for a Ride” campaign concluded last week, with the “student party bus” transporting students all day on Friday. The campaign has focused on the rise in bus fares, and is aimed at Stagecoach, who run the Unibus service, and Travel Coventry, who run the number 12 service between Leamington and Coventry.
The price of a return ticket from Leamington to campus has risen by 61 per cent in the last five years, from £1.80 in 2004 to the current £2.90 fare. In the same period, the student loan has only increased by 13 per cent. The Union organised the free bus to raise awareness of the issue. The Union also organised an online petition and a Facebook group. The petition has received the signatures of more than 1,500 students, whilst the Facebook group has attracted 1,700 members.
Students’ Union Governance and Finance Officer Andy Glyde told the Boar that it should make the bus companies “sit up and listen” to the voice of the students. He said that the bus prices keep being increased, and the companies “simply cite fuel costs.” However, he argues that this is not justified, especially in the midst of a recession, when petrol prices are going down. As well as petrol prices dropping, the bus companies are also assisted by government subsidies for public transport.
The Union is planning to meet with bus company officials, in the hope of achieving a better price for students. Glyde said that he hoped the initial negotiations would be successful, but if not “further action will be taken.” This could take the form of a boycott, but would not take place until next year, to avoid disrupting the exam period.
John Messer, a student living in Leamington, said to the Boar, “I use the bus a lot, particularly in the early mornings, and they do provide a good service. It’s just a shame they keep ripping us off by raising the prices.”
Another student, Henry Peter Everett, said, “I have started using my car this year because it hardly costs more than the exorbitant bus prices.”
The campaign has also raised other issues. Some students have complained about the poor condition of the buses, especially compared to other Stagecoach services in the area.
Although most students have supported the campaign, others have been less enthusiastic. Dharisha Mirando said that “they should try and organise a proper car-sharing scheme, rather than just focusing on bus prices. I thought that Tommo said he was going to organise one.”
Another student, Puneet Dhaliwal, said, “The sabbatical officers have again chosen the wrong issues. There are far more pertinent issues, such as tuition fees, which they have ignored all year.”