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U-turn on bus fares after pricing blunder
A COUNCIL blunder doubled the cost of bus travel for workers and patients at an Oxford hospital.
When Oxfordshire County Council transferred the running of the 600 service to Thames Travel earlier this month, an error in the tender document put prices up from £1.50 a return to £1.50 a single.
The route connects Thornhill Park and Ride with the Churchill Hospital in Headington and is used by patients and NHS staff.
After angry workers raised the issue with the Oxford Mail, the council owned up to its mistake and the original fares were reinstated yesterday.
Medical secretary Lynda Slay said: “It’s a case of miscommunication, the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing.
“It hasn’t filtered down to the people who matter.”
Mrs Slay, who began using the service 18 months ago, said the route was originally run by Stagecoach, which offered bus passes for NHS staff at a cost of about £18 a month.
She said when the county council took over the fares went up to about £30 a month and last week’s erroneous price hike was the final straw for many commuters.
Receptionist Anna Hucko gave up taking the bus while the price rise was in place, opting instead to make the journey to work on foot. Yesterday, she said: “£15 a week for a bus fare is quite a lot so I decided to walk from the first bus stop along London Road, which took about 40 minutes.
“But we were able to buy £1.50 returns today so I’m back on the bus.
“I’m sure without the Oxford Mail getting involved, the mistake wouldn’t have been picked up.
She added: “It’s the drivers I feel sorry for. They were just doing their job but they had to face all the people moaning.”
Council spokesman Owen Morton said: “Following a recent county council re- tendering exercise, the contract for the 600 service – previously operated by the council’s Integrated Transport Unit – passed to Thames Travel.
“However, as a result of a mistake we made on the tender document, the fare was incorrectly specified as £1.50 single instead of £1.50 return.
“The contract was therefore agreed on this basis and the new fare was brought in when Thames Travel began operating the service on June 6.
“We have been in contact with Thames Travel who have kindly agreed to reinstate the £1.50 return.”
He added: “For regular customers affected over the last week, we are in the process of arranging a week’s worth of free travel on the service.”
Thames Travel spokesman Phil Ashworth said: “We are very pleased that the matter has been resolved to everyone’s satisfaction.”