Millions of passengers across England will continue to ‘Get Around for £2’ and access vital bus services thanks to £500 million in government funding, supporting people with the cost of living and ensuring long-term stability in the sector.
The Transport Secretary Mark Harper today (17 May 2023) confirmed £300 million to protect vital routes and improve services until 2025 that people rely on for work, education, medical appointments and shopping.
To help people with the cost of living pressures and save on everyday travel costs, the government will also provide up to £200 million to continue capping single bus fares at £2 outside London until the end of October 2023 and then at £2.50 until 30 November 2024 – when the government will review their effectiveness and future bus fares.
The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) estimates that inflation will be halved by the end of this year, and capping fares at £2.50 until November 2024 will create longer-term certainty for bus users over the next year.
The fare cap will be reviewed ahead of November 2024.
The move is an essential part of the government’s Help for Householdsinitiative to support everyone through the increased cost of living, and will particularly benefit those on lower incomes who take nearly 3 times as many bus trips than those on higher incomes.
During the pandemic, bus usage dropped as low as 10% of pre-pandemic levels and, while passenger levels have recovered to around 85 to 90%, the fare cap aims to encourage people back on the bus, which can help reduce congestion and emissions.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said:
“By extending the £2 fare cap, we’re making sure bus travel remains accessible and affordable for everyone while helping to ease cost of living pressures.
“Buses connect our communities and play a vital role in growing the economy; they transport people to work, take our kids to school and make sure patients can get to doctors’ appointments.
“That’s why we’re determined to protect local routes and encourage more people onto the bus, ensuring people can get around easily and in an affordable way.
Transport Secretary Mark Harper said:
“Taking the bus is the most popular form of public transport and millions of people rely on these vital services every day.
“That’s why we’re investing half a billion pounds to help people save money amid cost of living pressures and continue to level up transport in all parts of the country, doing our bit to help halve inflation and grow the economy.”
Graham Vidler, CEO of the Confederation of Passenger Transport, said:
“We welcome this 2-year funding settlement.
“It shows a recognition of the value of buses to the economy and to local communities.
“It will enable bus operators and local authorities to plan, promote and grow services with greater confidence.
“However, the combination of the funding settlement and the £2 fare cap extension will not save every service in every part of the country. Operators and local authorities will now work together to study the detail of the government’s proposals and ensure that the funding is used to safeguard the best possible network for local passengers.”