Features & Interviews Uncategorised

Fare play: How the £2 fare cap is improving bus ridership levels

12 January 2023 #Features & Interviews #Uncategorised

More than 130 bus operators in England across 4,600 routes are currently taking part in a three-month initiative Government initiative to cap single bus fares at £2.

The ‘Get Around for £2’ scheme backed by £60 million from the Department for Transport (DfT) is designed to help and encourage people outside London to get back onto buses, in turn aiding the industry as it continues to recover from a sharp fall in ridership levels caused by the pandemic.

Transport Secretary Mark Harper said the scheme, which runs until the end of March, will help families, students and commuters with the cost-of-living crisis while taking an estimated two million cars off the road.

“Buses are a key part of our vision for a clean, efficient and modern transport network that is affordable for everyone”, Mr Harper said. “That’s why we’re investing £60 million to encourage everyone to hop on the bus and get around for £2.”

With the average single bus fare for a three-mile journey costing about £2.80 outside London, millions of passengers should save almost a third of the single ticket price.

For example, a typical journey from Lancaster to Kendall has now been cut from £14.50 to £2, while if you want to get from Plymouth to Exeter, the fare is reduced from £11.20 – savings of 86% and 82% respectively.

The benefits are being seen across the UK, with a journey from Newcastle to Middlesbrough now reduced by 75% from £8, and a trip from Leeds to Scarborough, normally £15, is lowered by 87%.

“More people using buses is good for the economy, environment and wider society,” said Tom Stables, CEO of National Express UK. “We know that great value, low fares encourage people to switch to the bus so are proud to join this scheme.”

According to bus operator Stagecoach, in the first five days after the launch of the initiative on January 1, more than 300,000 bus passengers took advantage of the new £2 single fares.

People on the South Coast and in South Lancashire were among the fastest to benefit from the initiative, with large numbers choosing to travel on Stagecoach routes such as the 700 Coastliner service between Portsmouth and Brighton and the 125 service between Bolton and Preston.

Other popular routes have been Cumbria, home to the scenic 599 service from Bowness to Grasmere, and Oxfordshire where Stagecoach customers can now travel between Oxford and Witney or Bicester.

The scheme is available on about 50,000 Stagecoach bus services a day across England and tickets can either be bought on the Stagecoach App in advance or on the bus.

Carla Stockton-Jones, UK Managing Director of Stagecoach, said: “Fares are just one tool that can make buses more attractive. We also need a focus on priority measures which will keep buses out of congestion, speed up journey times, help keep fares low, and ensure buses are reliable, factors which we know are important for passengers and which we are actively working with local and national governments on.”

Meanwhile, operator Transdev is offering the promotion to its customers across Yorkshire and into Lancashire and Greater Manchester.

The £2 single fare will be instantly available anytime, anywhere and on any day from bus drivers – using cash or contactless payment – and on the Transdev Go mobile app.

It means the 84-mile journey from Leeds to Whitby – voted Britain’s Most Scenic Bus Route in a national poll of bus users – will now be 87 per cent cheaper.

Alex Hornby, Chief Executive Officer at Transdev, said: “We’ve been amongst the most successful operators in the country in attracting customers back to buses post-pandemic.

“But we know there are still some who have yet to return to our routes – and during the current cost-of-living crisis in particular, we hope this money-saving promotion will attract them back on board.”

The fare cap is part of the government’s Help for Households campaign to tackle the cost-of-living crisis, and builds on the allocation of more than £2 billion to support bus services in England through the pandemic.

DfT says it will continue to work closely with bus operators and local authorities to “consider future support to help passengers continue accessing reliable and affordable bus services after March”.

Andrew Jarvis, Chief Operations Officer at First Bus UK, hopes the scheme can be a success in encouraging more people to consider using the bus as part of their everyday travel habits.

“We are keen to work with the UK government and our local authority partners on any initiatives that aim to make bus travel in the UK more attractive to more people,” he said.

“During this cost-of-living crisis, the bus offers everyone a cost-effective and environmentally friendly, alternative mode of transport.”

More than a third of small firms consider public transport important to their business and the move is likely to encourage shoppers to go to towns and cities – helping to boost much needed economic growth.

In addition, the scheme supports the national bus strategy, published in 2021, with its commitment to fund improved services, and should help reduce CO2 emissions and tackle congestion.

Martin Dean, Managing Director, UK Regional Bus at Go-Ahead, said: “Many of our passengers are feeling the pinch this winter as household bills mount. Under this special fare, you’ll be able to go further than ever for £2. We hope it will encourage people to try some new routes, have some adventures and to explore the freedom of travelling by bus.”

Travelling for £2 on the bus both helps customers facing rising cost challenges and enables them to try a new travel option to get to work, education, public services, leisure or see loved ones.

More people using buses is good for the economy, environment and wider society. The low fares provided by this initiative should encourage more people to make the switch to buses, and as a result helping bus operators to invest in new fleets with the latest technology, with further positive impacts for industry and the public alike.


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