Local bus use declined by nearly 2% in the last financial year, official statistics show.
According to provisional statistics published by the Department for Transport (DfT) there were 4.45 billion local bus passenger journeys in England in the year to ending in March 2017, down 1.7% on the previous year.
DfT officials said bus use in England outside London declined by 1.1% over the same period, continuing the decline since 2009, and is now 1.5% lower than in the year to end March 2005.
In London, bus use decreased by 2.3% but remains 12.4% higher than in the year ending in March 2007.
Lianna Etkind, public transport campaigner at the Campaign for Better Transport, said: ‘Today's figures are the inevitable consequence of years of cuts to bus funding.'
She added: ‘The new Bus Services Act does offer hope for some areas. Local authorities can use new powers to protect or even restore bus routes, but we also need long-term, sustainable funding from central government or we will continue to see buses decline.’
The DfT said that in the year to March 2017, local bus fares increased by 1.6%, slower than the Retail Prices Index (RPI) rate of inflation (3.1%). Its bus fares index shows that fares in London fell by 1.8%.
Officials said final figures will be released in the autumn as part of the annual bus survey statistical release.