Free bus rides in newly-launched customer charter

Herman and Candelaria Zapp and their children

Family on 17-year round-the-world road trip visit Portsmouth

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A BUS company has pledged to give free rides to any of its customers who have to wait for a late bus.

First has launched a customer charter alongside a promise, which allows people to claim a free ticket if their bus is more than 20 minutes late or more than one minute early.

JUST THE TICKET Andrew Wilson of Hampshire County Council, Bill Sprake and Dervla McKay of First Bus, Chris Veck, supervisor at the Travel Shop and Natacha Tagholm, regional customer services manager for First South West and Wales. Picture: Sarah Standing (13603-1633)

JUST THE TICKET Andrew Wilson of Hampshire County Council, Bill Sprake and Dervla McKay of First Bus, Chris Veck, supervisor at the Travel Shop and Natacha Tagholm, regional customer services manager for First South West and Wales. Picture: Sarah Standing (13603-1633)

And for passengers on the BRT route in Fareham and Gosport, that promise applies if the bus is five minutes late.

Regional customer services manager Natacha Tagholm said: ‘This charter sets out our commitment to our customers.

‘It’s also got lots of other useful info in there such as how to best buy a ticket, how passengers can help us and about our website.

‘It’s about engaging more with our customers and being more informative.

‘We want to get it right but we know occasionally we don’t meet the standards we set ourselves and for that we want that to apologise and give a free ticket.’

The new charter came into force yesterday.

To make a claim, customers can pick up a form at the bus depot, fill it in and send back to a freepost address.

First will then investigate using the GPS tracking system which is fitted to all buses.

The move comes after First recently changed timetables, routes and numbers to the frustration of many users.

First general manager Dervla McKay said: ‘We have put a lot of hard work into listening to both customers and staff.

‘Today is about our scheme, our pledges and about becoming more customer- focused. With the charter, our customers will know what to expect from us.’

Bus user Mel Derrick, 71, from Conniston Walk, Fareham, said: ‘I get a free ticket anyway so it won’t make any difference to me. What they need to do is bring back the inspectors. Years ago there were inspectors checking up on the drivers, now they don’t do it.’

Donald Price, 21, from Gosport, said: ‘I have tried to complain about a bus driver that didn’t stop for me and I was passed around from here to there. It’s all very well saying these promises, as long as they follow through with it.’

Dan Simmonds, 30, from Gosport, said: ‘My bus is late today but I don’t really pay much attention, I just want to get home.’