Cardiff Bus is considering slashing the price of its fares for shorter journeys, the company’s new chairman has revealed.
Councillor Benjamin Thomas said passenger numbers had dropped over the past six months and he had tasked the Cardiff council-owned company with winning them back.
Cardiff Bus has hiked its fares twice in the past year, with the cost of a single journey increasing from £1.50 to £1.70. Rising fuel costs and a cut in Welsh Government funding were blamed.
But the new chairman says he believes £1.70 is too high a charge for short trips and he wants the company to look at introducing a new fare scale.
“If you are going just a few stops, I believe the charge of £1.70 is too high. We are looking at implementing a smaller charge for smaller journeys,” he said.
The Labour councillor for Whitchurch pledged to improve service reliability and to “build the company back up from grassroots level” by listening to its drivers.
“I believe over the course of the last few years the company has been steered away from the grass roots – its drivers and mechanics – and reliability has suffered,” he said.
“We want to re-engage with the staff, listen to their requirements and rebuild everything from the ground up.”
Coun Thomas, who owns a company which home delivers furniture for Ikea in Wales, also wants to see real-time information installed at more stops, as well better use of social media.
Coun Thomas was appointed chairman of the company’s board on Tuesday. He replaces Liberal Democrat councillor Joseph Carter, who held the post for four years.
The appointment, instigated by the new Labour administration running the council, comes after Cardiff Bus managing director David Brown resigned last month.
Mr Brown left after a damning Competition Appeals Tribunal report found the company’s tactics had driven its rivals 2Travel off the road in 2004.
Tribunal chairman Lord Carlile of Berriew said the MD had lied and given undertakings to his board that its cut-price White Service was run in accordance with anti-competitive legislation – without taking legal advice.
Mr Brown had worked at Cardiff Bus for 18 years and a company spokeswoman refused to disclose the value of Mr Brown’s severance payments.
She said: “Cardiff Bus does not consider it appropriate to give specific details of any payments to be made to David Brown in connection with the termination of his employment because such details constitute confidential and personal information. However, Cardiff Bus confirms that the terms of Mr Brown’s departure are in line with his contractual entitlements.”
Cardiff Bus was ordered to pay £93,000 in compensation to 2Travel’s administrators, but the company could also be liable to pay the legal bills of both parties.
The cost of a single journey on a Cardiff bus has increased from £1.50 to £1.70 in the past year.