EIGHTY per cent of bus fares will go up across the city in one of the biggest price hikes in years.

Just a handful of Brighton and Hove Bus Company’s fares have been frozen with some increasing by as much as 46 per cent.

Angry passengers have slammed the hike describing it as extremely damaging.

And there is further frustration as the bus company has brought the annual change in prices forward from the spring.

The new prices will come in effect on January 16 – just two days after the scrapping of the night buses as revealed in yesterday’s Argus.

Managing director Martin Harris blamed the hike on higher costs as a result of increased congestion.

He said: “Our costs rose significantly during this period because of an increase in congestion in the city which meant we had to run more buses and employ more drivers just to maintain the same level of service. Sadly, it’s meant we’ve had to put up some prices.

“We’ve also brought forward the changes to earlier in the year deliberately in order to reduce the scale of price rises.”

Among the increases include the M Ticket smartphone City centrefare going from £2 to £2.10, the 60 Minute ticket from £2.40 to £2.60 and the One Day City Saver from £4.20 to £4.40.

Among the longer term tickets to increase are the Network Saver 28 day which goes from £77 to £81, the Network Saver 90 day from £205 to £215 and Network Saver 12 months from £635 to £665.

A student one day Saver will go from £3 to £3.20 and Seven day Saver from £13 to £13.50.

Yesterday passengers criticised the hike in fares.

David Amey, a 21 year-old student who lives in Kemp Town, said: “As a student, any increase is quite damaging to my finances.

“There has to be a visible improvement to the service and I haven’t seen that.

“Increasing the fares just to keep the service the same seems backward.”

Chris Davis, 39, uses the City Saver to get him to and from the city centre from Saltdean.

He said: “It’s more expensive to travel here than in London – and I was earning more when I was living there.

“When I first moved here as a teenager, I used to be able to drive around fairly freely.

“But the priority in this city is buses now. They take up most of the city.”

Just a handful of the fares have been frozen, including many of the pay on the bus paper tickets.

The paper ticket city fare remains at £2, as does the Centrefare at £2.20 and City Saver at £5.

Mr Harris said his focus had been to keep everyone’s fare increase to a minimum and freeze as many as possible.

He justified bringing forward the price hike from the spring as to “reduce the scale of price rises”.

He added: “Some very good news is that we’ve introduced two and three-day saver tickets specifically for students to help them make more flexible choices where it will save them money.

“Plus we’re maintaining our policy of offering better value to customers who prepay. It speeds up journeys and minimises emissions. Eighty-three per cent of passengers already pay before they travel with our smart phone M-ticket or a key card.

“But we don’t want to penalise those who are not yet able to go cashless – hence why we’re freezing some cash payments. We’re also still offering deals such as our affordable payment plan through the East Sussex Credit Union.”