BUS fares in Edinburgh are set to rise by 10p if the Scottish Government goes ahead with a cut in funding for concessionary fares.
A single journey on Lothian Buses is expected to go up from £1.40 to £1.50 from April.
The increase comes after a similar 10p rise last year, but it is understood the company hopes to limit the fare hike to the single adult ticket rather than putting up the price of day tickets and other fares as well.
The 10p hike would rake in over £11 million a year for the operator, if half of its annual 111 million passengers pay the single adult fare.
The planned rise means the minimum fare charged by the council-run bus firm will have risen 150 per cent since 2002 – or a whopping three times the rate of inflation over the same period.
Bus companies can currently claim 67p in the pound for every journey made under the concessionary scheme, but that is due to be cut to between 58p and 62p, reducing payments to bus companies across Scotland by an estimated £15m.
No official announcement will be made until talks between bus operators and the government are concluded.
Bus companies are still lobbying against the planned funding reduction.
City transport convener Lesley Hinds said if the cash was cut, Lothian Buses had limited options about how to make up the shortfall, but warned fare rises would do nothing to encourage public transport use.
She said: “The Scottish Government says it wants to get people out of their cars, but this is not going to achieve that. If they do believe in public transport, they need to find the resources to make sure it has the support it requires.
“People appreciate the good quality bus service we have and we want that to continue.
“The bus service is so important to the economy of the city. Edinburgh has one of the highest proportions of people travelling to work by bus.”
It is understood that Lothian Buses will seek to avoid cutting services.
A source said: “The company has been making as many efficiency savings as possible. It doesn’t want to cut services and it wants to limit the fare rise as much as possible, so it will probably be 10p on an adult single journey and leave the rest alone.”
In March last year, Lothian Buses increased the cost of an adult single ticket by 10p to £1.40, while an adult day ticket went up by 30p to £3.50.
The company blamed a multi-million-pound cut in the Bus Service Operators Grant from the Scottish Government and a drop in revenue as a result of passengers snubbing town because of tram works.
The concessionary fares scheme gives unrestricted free bus travel to people who over 60, disabled or war veterans.
For the year 2011-12, a total of 38,860,549 concessionary passengers were carried by Lothian and First Edinburgh.
Lothian Buses declined to comment on likely fare rises.
Managing director Ian Craig said: “The continuation of properly funded national free concessionary travel is of great concern to Lothian Buses and our passengers, and we are playing our part, working through the Confederation of Passenger Transport (Scotland), to discuss with the Scottish Government.”
A Scottish Government spokesman said: “Fares are a decision for operators, driven by a number of factors such as rising fuel costs and wages. We want to ensure that bus travel remains affordable for paying passengers while encouraging operators to moderate fare increases. In the meantime, we continue discussions with the sector about an appropriate rate for 2013-14.”
THE COSTS ELSEWHERE
Glasgow: Subway £1.40; short hop bus (up to five stops) £1.15; longer hop (within city zone) £1.85.
Dundee: £1.80 single.
Aberdeen: Singles fares range from £1.10-£2.40.
London: (Oyster single fare) bus £1.40; Tube £2.10.