The £2 bus fare cap is to be extended for a further three months, backed by up to £75 million of additional funding
Passengers across England will benefit from £155 million in additional Government support after Transport Secretary Mark Harper announced on 17 February that funding of £80 million will be provided to extend Bus Recovery Grant funding from 1 April to 30 June 2023 alongside plans to provide up to £75 million to continue the £2 single fare cap outside of London during the same period.
The Government says it is continuing to work closely with operators, recognising the ongoing challenges as passenger numbers remain at around 85-90% of pre-Covid-19 levels, and added that the existing £60 million of funding to cap single fares has already shown early signs of increased bus use, reporting that an independent survey of 1,000 people from passenger watchdog Transport Focus has shown 7% of people saying they are using the bus more. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said: “I want to make bus travel affordable for all, that’s why we’re continuing to cap fares at £2 and protecting local routes, ensuring we have a modern and efficient network that’s accessible for everyone.
“Getting more people onto reliable and affordable buses will strengthen communities and help grow the economy – connecting people to jobs, driving pensioners to see friends and family, and helping people attend medical appointments or access education.
“I’m determined to ensure that no matter where you live, you have the same opportunities to get around easily and can feel pride in your local area – which is why protecting our local bus services is so important.”
Commenting on the news, Martin Dean, Go-Ahead’s Managing Director for its regional bus business, said: “Buses account for two thirds of public transport journeys in Britain, and communities across the country rely on them for vital connections to jobs, education and local services. The £2 fare cap is an excellent initiative to promote bus travel, and we’ve been proud to support it across Go-Ahead’s network, so it’s great news that it will continue.
“We’re particularly pleased that the Government has extended financial support for local bus services with a further £80 million over three months. This valuable funding will safeguard hundreds of routes which are commercially challenging but important for local people. I very much hope a long-term solution can be put in place beyond June to enable us to grow bus networks and plan for the future.”
First Bus Managing Director Janette Bell said: “We welcome the Government’s extension of the Bus Recovery Grant, which will help protect vital services for passengers for a further three months. We also see the Government’s continuation of the £2 fare cap as a good move to help make buses more attractive during the cost-of-living crisis. The £2 fare has been popular with our customers – over 5 million people have taken up the offer so far.
“It is now critical all parties use this three-month extension to move away from short-term funding fixes and instead, build a sustainable settlement to unlock the economic, net zero and social well-being potential of bus services.
“During this cost-of-living crisis, the bus offers everyone a cost-effective and environmentally friendly, alternative mode of transport. We are keen to continue to work with the UK Government and our local authority partners to unlock the benefits that buses bring to the local communities we serve across the country.”
Confederation of Passenger Transport CEO Graham Vidler said: “We welcome the Government’s extension of the Bus Recovery Grant, which will help protect vital passenger services for a further three months. It is now critical all parties use this three-month extension to move away from short-term funding fixes and instead, build a sustainable settlement to unlock the economic, net zero and social wellbeing potential of buses. The Government’s continuation of the £2 fare cap is also a good move to help make buses more attractive during a cost of living crisis and we will work with our members to understand how they can maintain this initiative.”