A discounted travel scheme offering up to 86% off bus fares across England has been extended for a second time.
The £2 bus fare cap has been in place since January and was initially due to end in April. An additional £75 million investment from the government saw it extended initially until June while a second round of funding will see it run until the end of October. The cap means passengers can save an average of 30% on a standard ticket and more than 80% on some longer routes.
The discount applies to single fares on more than 5,000 routes across 140 operators outside of London. Passengers in Manchester, Liverpool and West Yorkshire get the same fixed fare offer under separate schemes.
The cap was introduced to help commuters and travellers struggling with the cost of living and to encourage more people to use public transport. Bus travel has increased since the scheme was introduced, according to figures from passenger watchdog Transport Focus. In a survey of travellers, it found 11% of respondents said they were using the bus to travel more - up from 7% in January.
Under the scheme, single local bus tickets are capped at £2, saving 80p on the average price of a fare. However, for some routes the savings are far higher. Among the biggest discounts are a £12.50 saving on the Lancaster to Kendall route and a £9.20 cut to travel from Plymouth to Exeter.
Under the additional £200m funding, the cap will remain in place until the end of November 2024 but will increase from £2 to £2.50 from 1 November 2023.
Roads minister Richard Holden said: “Bus travel should be accessible and affordable for everyone. We know that people are struggling with rising costs, which is why we’re extending the £2 bus fare cap and continuing to put money back into passengers’ pockets.
“This will help to ensure people can get around easily, no matter where they live – connecting them with work, education, doctors’ appointments as well as friends and families – in turn strengthening communities and growing local economies.”
Graham Vidler, chief executive of the Confederation of Passenger Transport, said: “The continuation of the £2 fare cap is a welcome boost for passengers during a cost-of-living crisis, reminding people buses are a stress-free, affordable and environmental option for work, education, appointments, leisure or to see loved ones.
“Alongside low fares, passengers need the government to continue to invest in bus services to help maintain connectivity across England, no matter where you live.”
David Bradford, managing director of National Express West Midlands, said more than three million of its passengers had taken advantage of the fixed fare scheme since January. He added: "It's fantastic to see that the government recognises the important role bus services have on local communities, not only to help people travel more affordably or access work, but also reduces congestion and emissions on our roads. We hope that news of this extension will encourage even more people to ditch their cars and switch to buses to get around."