PASSENGERS on major bus routes in Southampton will see their fares slashed.

Travel operator First is dramatically cutting or freezing prices on two-thirds of its services.

From this week passengers can hop on for as little as £1, but those on some routes will have to pay more.

It is the latest twist in a series of overhauls in the last year amid accusations of “bus wars” with its rival Bluestar after some services were increased while many customers saw services cut or axed altogether.

But First – the city’s largest operator – insists the shake-up is part of a “groundbreaking” scheme to encourage more people onto public transport by standardising fares.

It focuses on rounding down prices to even numbers and simplifying route maps, making fares easier for passengers to understand and calculate.

They are also poised for a £2.7m investment into new buses complete with electronic announcement boards announcing stops.

There will only be six standard ticket prices for 14 new fare zones on a colour-coded map.

More than 63 per cent of fares will be rounded down to the nearest 50p or £1 making it easier for customers to prepare correct change.

Timetables will remain unchanged with the cheapest adult single is £1 – down from £1.15 – while all adult return fares will cost £1 more than the corresponding single fare.

Key routes include the Millbrook to Shirley service – dropping from £1.30 to just £1 for a single and £2 for a return.

The cost of travelling one way from Weston to the city centre falls from £2.35 to £2 and is £3 for a return.

But passengers travelling from Hamble into the city centre face a hike from £2.85 to £3.50 one way and from £4.30 to £5 for a return.

A journey from Hedge End now rises from £3.70 to £4 for a single but drops from £5.60 to £5 for a return.

The journey into the city centre rises, as child singles are 50p less than their equivalent adult fares, with returns 50p more than each single.

Company managing director Marc Reddy said: “We are trying to reduce the complexity of fares and introduce more simplicity to make the journey a simpler experience.

“It makes it more attractive for our customers who can see much more easily how pricing works.

“Most people will know they have to just use 50p or £1 and it will speed up journey times as neither they nor our drivers will have to worry about finding different change.”