Cornwall Council leads the way with pioneering trial

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Cornish bus users and tourists are set to benefit from bus fares reductions across the county under a new pilot scheme

Transport for Cornwall says that residents and visitors will pay ‘significantly less’ to travel by bus under a new pilot scheme led by Cornwall Council to encourage more people to travel by bus. It will mean adult bus passengers will, on average, pay around a third less thanks to a fare change which was introduced to coincide with new summer timetables that began on April 10.

The reduced bus fares pilot scheme is a first for a local authority and follows a successful bid by the Council for £23.5m of funding from the UK Government.

The pilot, which aims to encourage more people to hop on the bus and leave their cars at home, will run for the next four years. It is hoped the scheme will cut car emissions, as road transport currently accounts for around a quarter of all of Cornwall’s carbon emissions. The Council has worked with bus operators to transform Cornwall’s public transport network in recent years following a Government devolution deal for the region in 2016.

This has seen the fleet age decrease, and stops have been upgraded; many now feature real time passenger information displays to give waiting passengers up to the minute information about their journeys. The latest improvement has seen operators now accepting each other’s tickets for travel as part of the county’s efforts to make public transport easier to understand and use.

The reduced bus fares pilot is a central pillar of Cornwall’s Bus Service Improvement Plan (BSIP), submitted to Government in October 2021 as a bid for transformational funding over the next three years that will further develop the bus network. Philip Desmonde, Cornwall Council cabinet portfolio holder for transport, said: “I am very pleased and proud we have been able to deliver the amazing value for money outcomes on our Bus routes throughout Cornwall. It’s great for work, school and reaching the county’s services whilst contributing to lowering our carbon footprint.

“Road transport is major contributor of carbon dioxide emissions and research shows that around a third of journeys made by car are of less than 5km. We all need to think about how we travel and I hope that this pilot will encourage more people to make more sustainable choices. If we all swap even one regular journey, it will make a difference.

“I invite you all to try the simple pleasure of riding on one of our wonderful buses and experiencing our beautiful Cornish countryside, towns, villages and coastal scenes.”

Linda Taylor, Leader of Cornwall Council, commented: “This is very welcome news which will make a real difference to our residents and ultimately, our environment. Making our buses better value and easier to use will give our residents a much more attractive, sustainable travel option and is instrumental in our journey to helping Cornwall become carbon neutral.”

Richard Stevens, Managing Director at Go Cornwall Bus said: “We are delighted to be a partner in this innovative scheme, for years people have told us price is one of the main barriers to regular bus use. This pilot seeks to remove price as a barrier, enabling us to offer excellent value for money fares. I hope that every Cornwall resident will seek to add bus travel to their regular lives, helping to secure a sustainable, connected future for the rest of our lives.”

Simon Goff, Managing Director of First South West, added: “Anything that makes choosing the bus an even more enticing option is to be warmly welcomed and we look forward to helping even more passengers get to their destinations safely and efficiently over the coming months and years. Cornwall Council deserves praise for leading this initiative which is sure to have a significant and lasting positive impact throughout the county.”

The scheme will be marketed and delivered by Transport for Cornwall a partnership of Cornwall Council and its transport operators. David Sidebottom, director at Transport Focus, said: “Cheaper fares are vital in winning passengers back and attracting new ones. Our research has shown that Cornwall’s bus passengers wanted better value for money fares. These plans should drive up passenger satisfaction and encourage more people to give bus a go.”

Richard Stevens, Managing Director at Go Cornwall Bus and Simon Goff, Managing Director of Cornwall by Kernow. FIRST KERNOW