Candidates from rival political parties took aim at Brighton and Hove’s biggest bus company at a council meeting.
Green candidate Luke Walter criticised Brighton and Hove Buses for squeezing the Big Lemon, a competitor, by cutting fares on two routes serving university students.
And Tim Lunnon, who is standing for Labour in Preston Park, called for the Bus ID scheme to be scrapped.
Conservative council cabinet member Geoffrey Theobald told both would-be councillors that Brighton and Hove City Council had no control over bus fares.
But he agreed to ask council officials to discuss the cost of children’s fares with Brighton and Hove Buses.
Mr Walter, who is standing for election in Hollingdean and Stanmer on Thursday 5 May, spoke during time set aside for questions from the public at the council meeting last Thursday (24March).
He said: “Does the council think it’s fair that people using the 23 and 25 bus pay only £2.50 but people on every other Brighton and Hove bus pay £3.70 for a day ticket, and if not, what is the council going to do to ensure that some areas of the city don’t end up subsidising other areas so that Brighton and Hove Buses can afford to price-match the Big Lemon?”
Councillor Theobald said: “There should be fair competition among local bus operators but the council has no control over bus fares.
“The Office of Fair Trading is currently investigating a complaint about Brighton and Hove Buses from the Big Lemon bus company.”
Mr Walter asked: “Would the council include the Big Lemon and other bus operators in the quality bus partnership to send a clear message to Brighton and Hove Buses that unfair competition will not be tolerated?”
Mr Lunnon said: “If a family wishes to travel by bus, then every child will have to pay half the price of an adult ticket, so it is actually financially beneficial to get a family into town by car.
“However, if a child has the Bus ID card, available freely from the bus company, they can travel for 20p when with an adult, making it far cheaper.
“I ask the cabinet member for the environment to lobby Brighton and Hove Bus Company to remove the need for the Bus ID card to allow all children, when with adults, to travel for 20p.”
Councillor Theobald said: “This is a commercial marketing scheme and 85 per cent of older teens take part in this scheme.”
Mr Lunnon asked: “Could you lobby the bus company? I understand it’s outside the council’s jurisdiction.”
Councillor Theobald replied: “Our officers do have meetings with the bus company and I will ask them to raise this matter.”