Minister praises Cornwall’s low fares pilot

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Baroness Vere made a trip to Cornwall to speak to operators and stakeholders about the county’s new low fares pilot scheme

Transport Minister Baroness Vere MP visited Truro recently to find out more about Cornwall Council’s bus fares pilot. A first for a local authority, the ‘Make Big Savings by Bus’ scheme was launched in April and has cut the cost of bus travel for residents in Cornwall with fares on average now around a third cheaper. The pilot follows the council’s successful bid for £23.5m in Government funding and involves bus companies including First South West and Go Cornwall Bus working in partnership as part of Transport for Cornwall.

During her visit at an event in Lemon Quay on 26 July, Baroness Vere, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State in the Department for Transport, spoke with bus companies and council representatives to hear more about the next steps for the costs-saving pilot. This sees new tap and cap technology introduced using contactless payments, with passengers paying no more than £5 a day or £20 a week.

Cornwall’s public transport network has seen substantial improvements since the council signed a devolution deal with Government in 2015 to deliver integrated services for customers, including investment in new vehicles and stops which feature real-time passenger information displays to give passengers up to the minute information about their journeys.

Customers can also use contactless cards to pay for fares with all tickets interchangeable between Cornwall’s bus companies under its ‘any ticket, any bus’ system.

The council is now waiting to hear the outcome of a £13.3m bid for UK Government National Bus Strategy funding to continue boosting bus services and new and upgraded infrastructure.

Baroness Vere said: “At a time when many people are feeling the pinch, every potential saving matters. That is why we have provided more than £23 million to help look at ways to make local bus services more affordable.

“The brilliant tap and cap pilot will not only help reduce travel costs for people across Cornwall, but will also help encourage greater use of more sustainable ways of transport, while helping create a truly integrated local bus network.”

Councillor Philip Desmonde, Cornwall’s portfolio holder for transport, added: “Vast improvements and savings for passengers have been made to bus services and infrastructure in Cornwall over recent years and we are starting to see passenger numbers return to pre pandemic levels. Cutting the cost of bus travel in Cornwall is another step in encouraging more people to look to more sustainable ways of travel, leaving their cars at home and cutting their carbon emissions.”

Richard Stevens, Managing Director at Go South West, said: “As the county’s largest bus operator, operating over 100 routes and carrying 90,000 passengers per week, we’re proud to be part of the latest initiative to save customers money and encourage people to switch from their cars to the bus. Together, as part of Transport for Cornwall we must continue to invest in change to make sure customers get the service they deserve.”

Simon Goff, Managing Director for First South West, commented: “The low fares pilot has proven to encourage more journeys to be taken by bus. Now we must focus on promoting the low fares pilot and the launch of ‘tap on, tap off’ to encourage non-users out of their cars, particularly at a time when running a car is so comparatively expensive.”

Baroness Vere visited Cornwall to hear more about the region’s low fares pilot. TRANSPORT FOR CORNWALL