Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Eye on the News

Bus fares are set to be reviewed, according to the manager of Jersey's new service. Kevin Hart said the £1.70 maximum fare would not change when CT Plus Jersey takes over from Connex on 2 January, but it would be reviewed later. He said fares may rise but the firm was also introducing a smart card system that would offer discounted rates. New buses have been arriving in the island ahead of CT Plus taking over. Mr Hart said: "You may see the cash fare rise. "But with the multi-deals that we will do on the smart cards as we progress through the year the people of the island will see a huge benefit." (1)

I welcome the introduction of smart cards and deals on them. Carrying just the right amount of cash, or close enough not to annoy the bus driver has long been a nightmare, and it's about time Jersey joined Guernsey, which has had them for some time. But I'm not altogether surprised that fares will rise - I suspect that the smart card deals will probably enable users to access the same fares as before a price hike!

It's wonderful the way the possible rise is phrased - "You may see the cash fare rise". Having just got their feet in the door, they probably don't want to lose out on their honeymoon period, but "You will see the cash fare rise", is probably more likely. I'd place odds on the summer timetable being the time when this happens.

A Jersey politician says taxpayers shouldn't have to shoulder the burden of buying the Plemont headland. A private developer has already been given permission to build houses on the site. But, next month the States are being asked spend up to £8m to buy the land and hand it over to the National Trust who'd return it to nature. But Deputy Geoff Southern says if the proposal is approved then the Trust should have to pay the States back. (2)

Most politicians are either for Plemont being bought by the public, or against it, probably with more than a few casting an eye on the mood of the electorate. Will it bite them at the next election? That's not to say there are not firm convictions, but I suspect that there are also some undecided. On the one hand, it would be wonderful for the future generations. On the other, it is a time of austerity, and when States workers are called for pay restraint, and large capital projects loom - police station, hospital etc - it seems very unwise to spend money that might be better used elsewhere.

Geoff Southern however, is a law under himself, and has probably decided to alienate both constituencies. The supporters of Plemont will say the National Trust is already pledging over 2 million, and can't afford it, while those against will think that this will still have to be spent first, and the timescale for any payback will be unrealistic to help the need for funding for other projects. ""I don't think we can afford, in times of recession, to spend £8m or more on this project", he says. This is, of course, the politician who says we can give States members all an £818 pay rise - in times of recession.



Anonymous said...

It will be interesting also to see what happens with "bus passes" for retired persons and those with the old HIE cards.
This is a minefield of discrimination with some very strange left-overs that give priority to Jersey born persons, different qualification ages according to gender or cards that are not issued or re-issued if allowed to lapse etc.
The issues were raised on the some time ago but promised answers from TTS have yet to arrive at SSTAG HG.
The question of radio or recorded music being played on buses might rear its noisey head again too. Connex removed the noise boxes after protests because they would not pay the PRS licence fees but if fares are to be increased and we are to enjoy the comfort of simulated leather seats - well who knows what other exquisite tortures might be available...

James said...

Recollection says that before the other island introduced their Ormer card there was a flat fare of 60p/journey anywhere. These days the cash fare is £1 and the larger top-up of £25 gives an equivalent of 50p/journey.

Needless to say, the States will ensure we don't get as good a deal as that.