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Students seek a fare deal from bus chief
A BUS boss says Basingstoke could be a trial area for a student travel card after he was impressed by a presentation by young campaigners.
Teenagers from the Labour Students Group at Queen Mary’s College voiced various concerns when they met Andrew Dyer, managing director of Stagecoach Southern, last Tuesday.
The students are angry that bus services now cease at 9.15pm, and they also claim late buses leave students struggling to get to lectures on time.
In protest, they started a petition that gained 600 signatures in just three days – and they then invited Mr Dyer to the college to explain the reasoning behind the company’s decisions.
George Severs, chairman of the group, said: “It was a really good talk about the problems that students face. Andrew was very helpful and gave us a much greater understanding of the bus company and the challenges it faces.
“We understand that a lot of the cuts are coming direct from Hampshire County Council after the contract was renegotiated. No company is going to run a service that it is not contracted to.”
Hampshire County Council has opted to reduce the funding it gives Stagecoach to run less profitable routes. As a result, the company is not running late-night services and other subsidised journeys.
The 17-year-old added: “We will now look to set up a meeting with our county councillor to see what can be done.”
Speaking after the meeting, Mr Dyer said a real-time information system, which tells passengers how long until the next bus arrives, could be installed in Basingstoke.
He told The Gazette: “We discussed a whole range of issues and I was given an opportunity to explain the challenges and restrictions we face when running buses. In turn, the students gave an extremely well-prepared presentation in which punctuality, information and the costs of travel stood out as key areas of concern.
“While they did understand that some issues are out of our direct control, their strongest views were about offering more affordable fares for young people, and I agreed that Stagecoach would look at using Basingstoke as a trial area for introducing a student travel card, along the lines of the Young Person’s Railcard.
“Overall, it was very positive, and I hope both parties will see the benefits moving forward.”