A PETITION to stop ‘the great bus rip off’ has been launched after Network Warrington increased its tickets prices by up to 65 per cent on Sunday.

Nearly 2,000 bus passengers have already signed the online petition in support of a cheaper and more reliable bus service following the sudden price hike.

Kelly Lafferty, who decided to take matters into her own hands and set up the petition, described the increase as ‘outrageous’.

The 27-year-old from Latchford said: “Network Warrington is pricing the hard working people and families in the town out of using what is already a terrible service.

“It is effectively punishing customers for its bad management decisions.”

Kelly is not the only person to take action and Scott Daley, from Penketh, is urging fellow passengers to boycott the service in the town.

The 36-year-old, who now uses his bike to travel around Warrington, said: “It’s hard to make ends meet as it is.

“They are going to hit us in the pocket so why not him them in the pockets?”

A passenger protest is also scheduled to take place outside the Warrington Bus Station on Saturday from 12pm.

But a spokesman for the bus company said it believes that the fares remain ‘good value’ for money.

“The decision to raise fares was taken after reviewing the continual fall in passenger numbers, the increase in fuel prices and a 50 per cent reduction in government rebate.

“The unsustainable losses on many bus journeys have made a review of costs necessary.

“We employ 270 staff and the board made the decision to increase fares to safeguard their future employment and the sustainability of the company going forward.

“We believe many of our fares are still good value.”

The council has also faced calls from passengers to step in and take charge but a spokesman said it was not its job to intervene.

“Network Warrington needs to safeguard its continued financial viability to ensure the continued provision of local bus services for Warrington’s citizens.

Warrington Borough Council has been working closely with Network Warrington to provide support on proposals but it is not for the council to intervene in business decisions.”

To sign the petition visit change.org/en-GB/petitions/network-warrington-stop-the-great-bus-rip-off.