Penalty fare will cause us all to boil
Friday 30th August 2013, 4:00PM BST.
CT PLUS and the Environment Department try today to lance two boils which are undermining bus travel in the island.
The first is the summer schedule, which was hastily introduced and seriously flawed, particularly for visitors and those who lived on the west coast.
The second is the dual fare for islanders and holidaymakers.
Whether the new winter schedule placates the residents of Perelle and L’Eree without creating new pressure points elsewhere remains to be seen. Generally, people realise the implications of timetables only when they try to use the service and nothing will change until early October.
The reaction, however, to the retention of the two-tier fare is wholly predictable. Visitors and islanders will both hate it.
Guernsey residents are proud people and particularly value their reputation for hospitality. Contrast the letter today about bus fares with one in Wednesday’s newspaper where a visiting Scout leader found ‘the wonderful people of Guernsey to be, without exception, extremely kind and patient’.
That is the Guernsey which islanders want visitors to remark upon, not one which is so penny-pinching it fleeces its guests by charging up to three times as much for the same bus ride.
It is expensive to get to Guernsey and not cheap once here, yet dwindling numbers of visitors accept that in return for the lovely food, beaches, cliffs and welcoming people.
What they cannot accept is being treated as a walking cash machine subsidising the island’s ailing bus service. Visitors may not pay taxes but they know that all of their spending goes straight into the island’s back pocket.
How long will it take holidaymakers to realise that the Ormer card is a far cheaper way to travel and demand the ability to buy one? Countless islanders have worked out how to get an Oyster card in London for exactly that reason, despite what the chief minister says.
And, not content with upsetting visitors, CT Plus and Environment are now set on alienating islanders by forcing them to buy Ormer cards or pay what amounts to a penalty fare.
Is that any way to build up a bus service?