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£2 bus fare cap announced across England to save passengers money

Government to provide up to £60 million from January to March next year, to help bus operators to cap single adult fares at £2 per journey.

Millions across England will save money through a new £2 cap on single bus journeys from January to March 2023, backed by up to £60 million to ensure affordable transport across the country.

The Transport Secretary has today (3 September 2022) announced the government will provide up to £60 million from January to March next year, to help bus operators to cap single adult fares at £2 per journey.

The move will help passengers with travel costs for work, education, shopping and medical treatments over the winter months while they are facing pressures from the rising cost of living.

Bus fares vary across different parts of the country and between bus operators, and can even reach almost £6 for a single journey in rural areas. The new cap means passengers in those areas could save more than £60 a month if they took 4 single trips a week.

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The average single fare for a 3-mile journey is estimated at over £2.80, meaning that the new fare will save passengers almost 30% of the price every time they travel.

The funding to keep fares down follows the government’s announcement of £130 million last month to protect vital bus routes and services across the country, which those on lower incomes in particular rely on.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said:

“Buses are by far and away the most used form of public transport, so ensuring that almost all bus journeys are no more than £2 will assist passengers over the winter months and provide direct help to thousands of households across the country.

“This £60 million boost will mean everyone can affordably get to work, education, the shops and doctor’s appointments.

“We know people will be feeling the pressure of rising costs this winter, and so we have been working hard this summer to provide practical concrete help that will lower daily expenditure.”

The new initiative follows the allocation of more than £2 billion to support bus services in England through the pandemic and a commitment to fund improved services, new bus priority measures and new electric or hydrogen buses as part of Bus Back Better, the ambitious national bus strategy, published last year.

During the pandemic bus passenger numbers declined significantly, along with other public transport users, and figures show usage has not returned to pre-pandemic levels.

However, ensuring the public can access affordable bus fares will encourage more people to choose buses for local journeys, which helps to reduce carbon emissions as the country moves towards Net Zero targets. The scheme is estimated to take at least 2 million car journeys off the roads, cutting congestion and pollution for everyone.

Introducing the fare cap by January enables the government to work with operators and local authorities to implement a scheme that most effectively delivers real savings for passengers. Operators representing around 90% of the bus market have expressed support for the scheme and we hope that all bus operators will participate.

The fare cap builds on lots of offers around the country in areas with high bus demand, which include daily, weekly and monthly ticket options and promotional offers. Single fares which are already lower than £2 will not be affected by the cap.

The government will continue to work closely with bus operators and local authorities and consider future support to help passengers continue accessing reliable and affordable bus services after March.

A flat-rate bus pilot scheme, backed by £23.5 million of government funding, launched in Cornwall this January and has already seen an indicative 10% increase in passenger numbers. The ‘Any Ticket Any Bus’ scheme, running over 4 years, includes a £3 day ticket within towns or a £9 day ticket across all of Cornwall, which is valid across different bus operators.

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