COUNCIL bosses have come under fire from York's MP over inflation-busting hikes to the city's bus fares.

Hugh Bayley hit out at City of York Council's transport bosses for not doing more to resist the increases of up to 50 pence by bus operator First.

He criticised the council, which pays towards the cost of the public transport system, saying it should have anticipated the hikes.

And he said promises by Coun Ann Reid, executive member for transport, to talk to senior First managers about the rises came too late.

He said: "This is the time of year when they put up their fares in the past and we know the cost of fuel has risen sharply in the last year.

"Saying they will go to talk to the bus company now is like shutting the door after the horse has bolted.

He added: "I am a little bit surprised after what happened last year that they have not put these reservations already."

The Press reported on Saturday that First will bump up fares from next month, with bosses blaming soaring costs of fuel, insurance and wage rises.

Single tickets, currently £1 and £1.50, will go up by 10p, while a £2.50 return will jump by 30p to £2.80.

A First Day unlimited travel card will leap by 50p from £3 to £3.50.

Meanwhile, adult weekly tickets will increase by £1 to £12 and four-weekly tickets will rise by £4 to £44.

Park & Ride tickets and child fares will be frozen, and pensioners will still be allowed to travel free.

Mr Bayley said the council should have a close relationship with First because it paid for the infrastructure used by buses.

He said: "The council is an important partner for the bus company.

"I think if they had said in the autumn, let's talk about your fare plans for next year, they would have done so."

Coun Ann Reid said: "We work with all the bus operators and we do provide a lot of the infrastructure to allow them to run their services.

"But of course all the bus companies are commercial operations that have to return a profit."

Coun Reid added: "The council put in a lot of infrastructure and a lot of hard work to encourage people to use the bus. We are concerned that these increases in bus fares will deter people from using the bus.

"Our concern is that everybody's hard work will be undone by fares that are well above the rate of inflation."

Mr Bayley praised First for freezing child fares and for increasing bus usage.

"It would be a tragedy if their passenger numbers now fell because of rising fares," he said.