BUSES fares across Somerset have seen a price hike as the ‘commercially unviable’ service struggles to survive in ‘financially challenging’ times.

Buses of Somerset, run by First Bus, announced the bus prices have been increased since the beginning of September.

The transport company, which runs around 80 services around Somerset, has prioritised bulk-buying and app users as it raises its ticket costs.

Day fares, week fares and monthly fares have all increased - which tickets prices varying if you purchase on-bus or online.

Buses of Somerset says the changes were needed to ensure the ‘socially necessary’ service can continue to run.

A spokesperson said: “Like so many rural bus services across the country, Buses of Somerset operates in an extremely challenging environment financially speaking, and we face the dual challenge of declining patronage and reduced support from council funding to operate commercially unviable but socially necessary services.

“Our income is almost exclusively from commercially operated rural services, and every year we adjust our fares to ensure the long-term sustainability of our services.”

“After we introduced the new fares, feedback from our loyal customers is that they appreciate this challenge of maintaining a viable and sustainable bus service.”

Day fares have increased by £1 for adults and 50p for children, and £2 for family tickets.

New adult fares bought from the driver are £13, £6.50 and £26 respectively, and on the app £12, £6, £24.

But buying a multi-pack of five-day tickets, the equivalent price would be £6 per ticket - presuming you are able to fork out the money for multiple tickets at one time.

The spokesperson added: “Just as is the case in other sectors, buying in bundles (pack of 5 or 20) and period fares (week, month, etc) offer the best value for money compared to single journeys or returns.

“Among the fare changes we introduced across all our areas are cheaper monthly ‘Unlimited’ fares for young passengers.

“Fares on our app or the monthly ‘unlimited’ tickets offer the best value for money.

“Adult customers buying a monthly pass from the driver can save of up to £20 per month by buying a Somerset Month Unlimited ticket from our website; a child monthly unlimited ticket is £10 cheaper.”

Weekly fares have also increase for £2 for adults on the bus, or £1 on the app, and monthly on-bus fares have increased by £10 (total £110 on the bus, or £100 on the app).

But will the price hikes cause fewer people, who cannot afford to bulk buy, to use the bus?

Mark Wood, from Taunton Green Parents, said: “A key strategy to reduce carbon emissions is to get fossil fuel burning cars off our roads.

“Buying expensive electric cars is not remotely possible for many families, and so making public transport cleaner, cheaper and more frequent is the only alternative.

“We are very concerned at the recently announced bus fare rises, which will surely disincentivise struggling families even further at a time where rapid movement is needed in the opposite direction.”

Mr Wood says despite anger over the price increase, the group understands the financial burdens, so would like to see more support for the services in the form of government subsidies.

He added: “We acknowledge that there is a chicken and egg problem here: some services will be unprofitable in the short term, but these need to be in place in order to get people out of their cars and ultimately increase demand.

“As always, it comes down to funding; more from central government for local councils to spend on subsidising routes and fares, setting up their own services, or other innovative solutions.

“These are strong measures, but strong measures are desperately needed.”

There has been no changes to Park and Ride bus fares. More information can be found at firstgroup.com/somerset/tickets/price-ticket-guide.