BWFC Matchday Bus Price Hike - A Slap in Fans' Faces

  • November 04, 2012 | By Largehat
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Following on from the news that the price of BWFC's matchday bus service is set to increase, Largehat takes a look at what this means for supporters.

This post reflects the views of the author and not necessarily those of Burnden Aces as a website.

Cash-strapped Wanderers fans were greeted this weekend with news that the match day bus ticket prices will be doubled from the Barnsley game on Saturday 17th November onwards.

My first reaction is that I am grateful that the club has bothered to let people know at all.

It certainly didn't have the courtesy to do so when it reduced the number of buses at the start of the season, which have been halved on some routes.

It hasn't had the decency to respond to fans' feedback about the problems this has created, either.

I wrote to the club on 17th September to ask why the buses had been slashed.

To ask why the club hadn't informed fans of the changes.

To ask if the club cared about the ongoing complaints in various local print and internet media.

To ask if the club was concerned about fans being stranded late at night in its car parks, or missing games completely due to absent and overcrowded buses.

I am still waiting for a reply.

I have caught the Number 3 bus for years. It was always full, especially on the return journey. Two double decker buses to serve the whole of Radcliffe and Little Lever, with a few extra people getting on in town and on the way up Chorley New Road, seemed about right.

When I wrote to the club, I didn't understand how, in the face of its boasts about increased season ticket sales for 2012/13, the club could reduce the Number 3 from two buses to one, halving the capacity of the route - and I still don't.

Perhaps the brilliant minds behind the scenes at The Reebok Stadium have concluded that pricing people out of catching the buses will reduce overcrowding.

I realise that the buses are subsidised by the club, but with inflation at 2.2%, an overnight 100% price rise is difficult to digest.

It is fifteen years since the club uprooted 6 miles out of Bolton, a move which was broadly against the wishes of the fans. But we were told, don't worry, the club will make sure we could get to the games. We're all one big family.

Fifteen years, it seems, is long enough for the club to forget its tacit obligation to provide fans with an economical and convenient way to attend games post-Burnden Park.

Local newspaper letters pages and online forums have been awash with complaints from fans who have been let down by the streamlined bus services this season. Young families being turned away in the dark, people who have bought match tickets listening to the radio at home, the elderly and infirm standing for over an hour each way. Bus drivers risking their licenses by driving with an unsafe number of passengers.

In many cases, its been too late for people to get to the game without spending a small fortune on taxis, so the club has lost out on ticket sales, food sales, programme sales, and upset a lot of people.

Bolton Wanderers FC's reaction has been to firmly insert a fat finger in each ear and hum to itself.

The deafening silence about the situation - and the unjustifiable price hike - is further evidence that the club does not care.

This is why, alongside, Nottingham Forest and Derby County fans, we have the most expensive replica shirts in the Championship.

It's also why they keep closing the FanZone this season to accommodate more profitable private functions.

We're told by company car driving Director of Facilities and Operations, Jan Kozlowski, that "the new fares still represent excellent value for money", and a comparison is made between regular First bus prices in the club's statement.

What a bloody cheek to compare these prices to public transport.

The club's obligation to provide subsidised transport is neatly side-stepped and our desperation to get to the games at any cost is assumed.

Clearly Kozlowski is wealthy enough never to have caught a bus in his life, he thinks people pay £4.80 for a return on First Buses, when every bus user knows an unlimited day ticket is £4.50. Did a Google search on your company iPad did you Mr Kozlowski? A brief conversation with any bus user would have given you accurate figures.

The club cites passenger numbers from one particular early bus from Bury which recently had four and six fans on board - the logical response to which would be to scrap that service or use a smaller bus - but no - this is used as part of the justification for doubling all fares across all routes!

A mind-bogglingly selective grasp of the material facts which insults the intelligence of anyone who has caught a match day bus this season.

Bolton Wanderers is happy to lavish money on a hotel which has never made a profit, but they're not happy to spend modest sums on match days to make it easy for fans to get to its games - our goodwill is taken for granted and this price hike is a massive slap in the face.

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