Shapps joins race for cheaper buses with £2 fare pledge


Ministers have announced a £2 cap on ‘almost’ every single bus journey in England for three months next year.

The cap will operate from January to March 2023 and follows a newspaper article from current transport secretary Grant Shapps last month in which he ‘proposed’ it.

The Department for Transport (DfT) said operators representing around 90% of the bus market have expressed support for the scheme and ‘we hope that all bus operators will participate’.

Metro mayors in areas such as Liverpool, Manchester and West Yorkshire have also announced a £2 cap.

Although £60m has now been provided, the DfT said the £2 cap will apply to ‘almost every single journey across England’.

At the time of publication, Grant Shapps was transport secretary

The DfT added that introducing the fare cap by January enables it to work with operators and local authorities ‘to implement a scheme that most effectively delivers real savings for passengers’.

It said bus fares can reach almost £6 for a single journey in rural areas and that the average single fare for a three-mile journey is estimated at over £2.80, meaning that the new fare will save passengers almost 30% of the price every time they travel.

Mr Shapps said: ‘Buses are by far and away the most used form of public transport, so ensuring that almost all bus journeys are no more than £2 will assist passengers over the winter months and provide direct help to thousands of households across the country.’

Alison Edwards, policy director at the Confederation of Passenger Transport: ‘We look forward to understanding in detail how the proposed fare cap will work in practice to ensure it supports the long-term sustainability of bus networks, which are vital in connecting communities with jobs, education and skills, as well as friends, family and essential public services.’

It appears that the DfT expects some of the cost to be offset by increased patronage. Officials said that ensuring that people can access affordable fares will encourage more people to choose buses for local journeys and that the scheme is estimated to take at least two million car journeys off the roads. Single fares that are already lower than £2, such as in London will not be affected.

Paul Tuohy, chief executive of Campaign for Better Transport, said: ‘Buses have great potential to cut traffic and carbon emissions, to connect communities and ease loneliness. This £2 fare cap – which we have called for – will help set buses on the road to a bright future.’

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