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Campaign success: £2 bus cap in England announced and funding extended!

7 September 2022
Campaign success: £2 bus cap in England announced and funding extended!

For months we have been calling on the Government to continue its funding of vital bus services and to encourage more people back on board with a fares incentive.

I’m pleased to say that we have been listened to!

From January, a temporary £2 bus fare cap will be introduced across England and £130m of support has been announced to save services from facing a potentially devastating funding cliff-edge.

Buses are an essential part of daily life with 60 per cent of all public transport journeys being taken by bus. Millions of people rely on buses to get to work, school, medical appointments, and job interviews. Yet over the past decade, bus fares have risen by a staggering 65 per cent – a much faster rate than rail fares and motoring costs. For some people it has become unaffordable to take the bus, further isolating those without cars. This is exactly why we have been calling on Government to tackle the cost of bus travel.

As the cost-of-living of crisis worsens, it’s increasingly important to make buses the affordable mode of transport and encourage passengers back on-board. The announced cap will be a huge relief to many, from regular commuters to the three quarters of job seekers who don’t have access to a car.

And more people on buses means fewer people in cars; a fully loaded double decker bus can take 75 cars off the road. Increasing bus use will also make services run quicker thanks to less traffic on the roads and improve air quality.

Of course, services must still be running for people to take advantage of these capped fares. Throughout the pandemic, buses have been kept afloat by government funding. Earlier this year we were successful in calling on government to extend this support, but this was set to run out at the end of this month, with bus companies already planning service cuts to cope. Our research has shown that already a quarter of English bus services have been lost in a decade, with 16 per cent happening in the first year of the pandemic.

It is a huge relief that this support will continue, and it will reduce the risk of further service cuts. However, this is a temporary extension and long-term funding is needed now more than ever. We would like to see the government move away from the current fragmented and competitive way of funding. More revenue funding is needed, as well as shifting money away from carbon-intensive transport towards buses, to provide longer-term support to fund services that people can rely on.

Both of these announcements are certainly a positive step in the right direction, but we need to continue campaigning for permanently affordable fares and sustained funding to make sure that no more services are cut.

This month is Catch the Bus Month, and we’re encouraging all our supporters to see how far they’ll be able to travel once the £2 cap is introduced. If everyone switched one car journey a month to bus, there would be a billion fewer car journeys and a saving of two million tonnes of carbon dioxide every year. You can make a huge difference so why not take the bus for a weekend daytrip, your commute or even the weekly shop?