STAGECOACH bus users have hit out at recent price hikes which mean it now costs £4.50 for a return ticket between Fairlie and Largs.

The original fare for the short distance of three miles was £3.10 - representing almost a 50 per cent increase.

A return fare between Fairlie and neighbouring village West Kilbride will now set bus users back a total of £6, an increase from £4.90.

Benny Harris, who lives in Fairlie slammed the decision, labelling it 'highway robbery'.

He said: "I am shocked at these increases, they are making travel unaffordable for ordinary people.

"These are disgusting prices hikes when people are struggling.

"Stagecoach were receiving praise earlier this month for keeping the buses running throughout lockdown, but they have spoiled that goodwill among passengers."

A spokesperson for Stagecoach West Scotland said it had listened to customers before making changes.

They added: “Earlier this month, we introduced a new range of tickets with the majority of fares being reduced.

"There are a small number of fares that have increased in order to create consistent and comparable fares with similar regions."

Sam Greer, Stagecoach regional director for Scotland said "Stagecoach is a business well known for innovation and we have taken time over the past year to really understand from our customers, staff and the wider public how they want to travel in the future and how we can make it simpler for them to choose bus.

"With simpler to understand fares, more flexible tickets and the use of technology to allow customers to track where their bus is, including how busy your bus service could be through our app, this complements contactless payment facilities on all buses.

"Improving the range of our tickets available for purchase both online and through our app and introducing a range of bespoke solutions for business customers means we are well placed to welcome customers onto our services and play a key role in rebuilding the economy and reconnecting our communities when restrictions can be relaxed."