By Connie Osborne Thursday 07 March 2013 Updated: 08/03 14:01
A BUS firm has allowed children to travel for free today (Friday) as part of an apology for overcharging passengers.
Diamond, which officially took over First bus services in the borough on Monday (March 4), is allowing
pupils to catch the bus to and from school for free after a mix up over fare charges.
Bus users have also been left frustrated over a lack of information about the changeover, confusion around bus timetables and a hike in prices.
A mother, who did not wish to be named, contacted the Standard after her daughter tried to get on the S77 from Hunt End to Ridgeway Middle School on Tuesday (March 5) and was told the price had increased from 60p to £1.50.
She said: "That's a 150 per cent increase and no one warned us. In fact the website actually states current fares will not increase.
"Thankfully there were quite a few people at the bus stop and the driver agreed to let them on for their normal fare."
Residents also took to the Standard's Facebook page to complain.
Jess Monroe said there had been no warning about price changes which meant her husband was asked to get off the bus because he was ten pence short of the fare.
Tracy Earp added: "The diamond buses are a complete farce. Not a single piece of information to be seen anywhere. I waited ages for a bus. Are the timetables going to change, are prices staying the same? It's one big joke."
Kylie Samantha Chart said she was baffled on Monday morning when four buses turned up at the same time and all were run by Diamond.
A spokeswoman for Diamond said they they were sorry for any inconvenience but the situation was improving.
She added timetables and prices would remain the same as before and they would continue to run the Friday evening service while they were also looking at extending other routes.
"I've been in the bus station for the best part of the week trying to ease any teething problems. We have had a few technical problems with our ticketing machines which is sadly out of our hands but they appear to be fixed now," she said.
"We have had issues with the changeover and we are aware services have been late and people have been over charged. We can only apologise for the inconvenience it has caused but things are running much more smoothly now."
Visit www.diamondbuses.com/tickets.html for more information.
* DIAMOND Bus have asked to make the following points in response to this article:
Diamond allowed passengers on three ex-First School Services (S69, S70 and S91) to travel free on Friday after the fare information we were given was wrong. This was corrected on Monday. Due to an issue with our ticket machine provider these changes did not update on bus until Thursday.
We felt that free travel today would ensure that no passengers would be charged more than the usual Schools’ £6weekly.
No prices have had “a hike” as your article suggests. As all the information Diamond have put out has stated, no First fares have increased since takeover.
The comment regarding information is untrue. We updated all information at the Bus Station on Sunday and Monday morning, made timetables available in various convenient locations around the town and have a dedicated Diamond team at the Bus Station all week between 07:00 and 17:00 to help customers.
Prior to the takeover on Sunday 03 March 2013 First did not allow us access to vehicles so we could not put up notices about the takeover – First did put up Passenger Notices around the bus station and on-bus.
Until the middle of this week we were not allowed to change any of their timetable cases along routes in Redditch and Kidderminster. We have since purchased these and are in the process of printing timetables for them. We have not changed any First routes, timetables or fares – everything has remained the same other than the operator is now Diamond.
All of the now Diamond drivers have been fantastic and have helped immensely during the changeover. They have had to deal with new Electronic Ticket Machines and have coped admirably. Their common-sense approach to allowing passengers travel has proven invaluable and we felt the paper should have recognised this in the article.
Passengers have also been extremely patient with us and allowed us time to get things working smoothly; for which we cannot thank the people of Redditch enough. We felt that we had stressed the above points and were disappointed that the paper chose to ignore those comments and focus only on negatives.
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