PASSENGERS on Stagecoach bus services across Ayrshire will be hit by an inflation-busting fare rise of 15 per cent on average next month.

The company says the increase is down to the end of emergency Covid funding provided by the Scottish Government to keep services running during the pandemic - but its boss insists that despite the hike, bus travel is still good value.

The increase will come into effect on all Stagecoach West Scotland routes in North, East and South Ayrshire, Dumfries and Galloway and greater Glasgow from Sunday, April 2.

Fiona Doherty, Stagecoach West Scotland's managing director, said: “With operating costs continuing to rise, we will be making changes to our fares from April 2 to prioritise investment in our people, our fleet and our customers. 

“We understand the cost-of-living pressures our customers face, and we realise that fare increases are not welcome however, we strongly believe our fares still represent good value for money.”

The firm says it neds to "make decisions that will future-proof the viability of its network for our customers and colleagues", with passenger numbers still not returning to the levels seen before Covid.

The emergency Scottish Government funding to support bus operators through the pandemic has been reduced over the last 12 months, and will be withdrawn altogether on March 31.