'Travel zone changes are pricing us out of public transport'

Passengers say a new pricing system for travel cards in the west of Scotland will make costs skyrocket for many people.

From 24 June, travel group SPT has updated the ZoneCard map so there are fewer zones and new ticket prices.

William Hill, who travels from Kilmarnock to Glasgow for work, says this means the cost of his 10 week ZoneCard will increase from £485 to £890.

SPT said prices had not increased in several years while individual bus, rail and subway prices had all gone up with inflation.

Mr Hill, 56, told BBC Scotland how he has used the ZoneCards for more than 20 years and will be looking to stop relying on them.

"SPT seem to be trying to price out the working person from public transport," he said.

"Imagine working to a tight budget and going to buy a ZoneCard and finding out your transport costs have doubled.

"I fear that there will be people in a worse off situation who rely on this card who will simply not be able to afford this price rise."

Mr Hill says he is now focused on getting his driving licence and buying a car as he believes it will be cheaper than the cost of travelling on public transport.

ZoneCards permit travel on the subway, buses and trains in Glasgow, as well as in parts of Ayrshire, Lanarkshire, Dunbartonshire and Inverclyde.

People can select different cards based on which zones they want to travel in, as well as for different periods of time, from a day ticket to an annual pass.

'Pricing out commuters'

Kevin Stevenson, 31, regularly travels in Glasgow from Cardonald to his teaching job in Maryhill.

For a ZoneCard covering four weeks, he usually pays £99.40.

However the new system means the same commute will cost him £176.40.

He has bought zone cards for the last 15 years, but now says he will be looking for an alternative.

"I am all for them reclassifying the zones because they are a bit crazy," he said.

"I got in touch with SPT and they said the zones have been simplified to allow you to travel further, but that's not going to help the average commuter.

"While it's wonderful that I can travel to Paisley or Erskine, I'm not going to start travelling through there to get to my work in Maryhill. It seems like they're just pricing out commuters, it doesn't make any sense."

Mr Stevenson said he usually takes a train and a bus to get to work, so an integrated travel card worked best for his circumstances.

He added: "With the changes, it's going to cost me nearly an extra £80 a month.

"This city is bad enough in terms of public transport, but this was the only integrated ticketing system that Glasgow offers.

"It feels like they just want the ZoneCard to die out, because you can't put up the prices in such a way and price out the people that use the service."

Inflation increase

A ZoneCard Forum spokeswoman said decisions about the ZoneCard were made collectively by participating operators.

She said: "The current ZoneCard prices have not been increased for several years, while individual bus, rail and subway prices have all increased with inflation.

"As part of the move to the new smart ZoneCard, the new ticket prices have been comprehensively reviewed by the forum for the first time in several years, taking into account current operator pricing as well as the new zone structure.

“ZoneCard is intended to offer good value where customers are travelling regularly using more than one mode of transport several days a week. For single operator travel (e.g. rail only) a single operator ticket will provide better value for money."

She said the new smart product should be more flexible and convenient to use and renew.