FirstGroup fare cuts talk cooled by firm

BUS passengers hoping to benefit from the recent slump in oil prices are set to be disappointed after FirstGroup yesterday cooled expectations for fare cuts.

FirstGroup: Fare cuts unlikely. Picture: TSPL

At a time when motorists are toasting a sharp slump in forecourt petrol prices, the Aberdeen-based firm said its hedging policy meant it was committed to buying fuel at higher prices until next year.

The group grew like-for-like bus passenger numbers by 1.4 per cent in the quarter from 1 October in cities such as ­Glasgow, Bristol and Sheffield. Rail operations saw like-for-like passenger revenues grow 7.3 per cent in that period.

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FirstGroup is in talks with the Department of Transport over extending its Great Western contract until at least March 2019.

However, this progress has been offset by a failure to win new franchises, including a new ScotRail contract, which it ­operated from 2004 and will now be run by Dutch rival ­Abellio from April.