THE introduction of a new pricing system for public transport in the west of Scotland has been described as “draconian” by one passenger whose monthly costs are set to skyrocket.

The travel group SPT are set to introduce new ticket prices from June 24 after reducing the number of travel zones in the network from 12 to seven.

But Kevin McGarrigle, who uses an SPT ZoneCard for his daily commute to work, told The National that his transport bill is set to increase by a staggering £152.60 every month as a result of the changes.

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

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Passengers select different cards based upon where they will be travelling regularly and for what period of time – from a single day ticket to a yearly pass.

But the changes mean that the price of some cards are set to increase by as much as 65%.

For example, a ten-week pass for Zone 2 is set to increase from £178 to £272, while an annual ticket for Zones 1 and 2 will go from £815 to £1248.

In a letter to SPT bosses shared with The National, McGarrigle said the changes would severely impact his ability to get to work in an affordable manner.

“With these draconian price rises, I have effectively been priced out of the market,” he said.

“The additional financial burden these price rises have placed upon me has implications for both getting to and from work at reasonable times and will remove my options of using the 254 [bus] and train service to zero.

“This decision has placed a level of uncertainty on me to try and decide very quickly my options for using public transport.

“ZoneCard is no longer a flexible or cost-effective way to merge journeys as it once was and I will most likely decide not to renew my card this weekend.”

McGarrigle added that the changes to travel zones did nothing to help regular commuters.

“I note that the zones now cover huge geographical areas,” he said.

“I contacted SPT and under the new system, my journey would require a zone 2+4 ticket giving access to zones 1, 2 and 4.

“The price for an adult four-week zone 2+4 ticket will be £252.00, a £152.60 increase from £99.40 with a one-week equivalent rising to £70.00 from £27.60.

“In effect I would be paying for huge zones to cover areas that I will not need.

“Again, ZoneCard has lost any claim of flexibility of use for passengers.

“How is this in line with the published national seven-year plan for integrated transport?

“How can such inordinate price hikes possibly be justified in a cost-of-living crisis, and when rail fares have been frozen again by the Scottish Government?”

Several others have taken to social media to denounce the price increases, with one disgruntled passenger describing them as a “scalping”.

But a spokesperson for ZoneCard Forum said prices had increased due to inflation and still offered “good value”.

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

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"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."

It comes after the Scottish Government said it wanted to introduce a Transport for London-style integrated ticket system for the entirety of Scotland.