Community representatives in Elgin have written to bus bosses amid concerns over a more than 100% fare increase.
The local community council has contacted Stagecoach after it was revealed a £9 weekly ticket for the town would be replaced with a new £20 pass, which also covers travel to communities including Burghead, Lossiemouth and Fochabers.
The campaigners – who have otherwise praised Stagecoach’s efforts during the pandemic – believe the increase will unfairly disadvantage passengers who rely on buses to travel around Elgin to get to the town centre, supermarkets and medical appointments.
Stagecoach says the changes have been introduced following a review of travel habits in the area, but opponents believes the two different fares could operate alongside each other.
Community councillor Douglas Clark said: “We understand it must be really difficult for Stagecoach to plan anything at the moment with changing passenger numbers because of Covid, while drivers have been off sick or isolating.
“This is really a huge price increase though for those who rely on the buses in Elgin.
“We’re encouraging them to review their decision.
“It just doesn’t seem fair to penalise those who use public transport to get to work, the shops, hospital or other medical appointments.”
Stagecoach already operates a zone system in the Inverness area to offer cheaper fares for those travelling within the city, alongside more expensive passes that also cover surrounding communities.
A similar model also exists in the Aberdeen area, where separate ticket zones covering Westhill and Portlethen are also accepted in the city.
A Stagecoach Bluebird spokeswoman said: “We introduced changes to our tickets and zones on Sunday, March 7, following a detailed analysis of travel habits across Elgin and the wider Moray area.
“In this change, Elgin City and Elgin City Plus zones were merged to form one zone covering Elgin, Lossiemouth, Burghead and Fochabers.
“We have received feedback on this from Elgin Community Council and will be reviewing in due course.”
Despite concerns over the bus fare increase in Elgin, Mr Clark has praised Stagecoach for its flexibility during the pandemic.
He said: “It’s been good to see the service from Forres to Findhorn and Kinloss has been extended to Elgin again.
“It means people in the village have not had to travel to Forres to get a separate bus when travelling to Dr Gray’s or anywhere else, which is very welcome.”