First Bus welcomes extension to UK Government support for Bus services across England
- Bus fare cap to be extended for three months, backed by up to £75 million to help passengers save money and Get Around for £2
- Government also confirms up to £80 million to continue support for critical bus services around England
- Over 5 million passengers have utilised the £2 fare scheme on First Bus services since January 2023
First Bus welcomes the UK Government’s announcement of an extension to both the £2 flat fare scheme and the Bus Recovery Grant funding to help maintain vital services across England for another three months.
Millions of passengers across England will now benefit from £155 million Government support to cap bus fares at £2, maintain services and ensure people can travel affordably.
The Roads and Local Transport Minister, Richard Holden MP, was in attendance today (17 February 2023) at the First Bus Chelmsford Depot to make the announcement where he confirmed £80 million from 1 April to 30 June to protect vital bus services people rely on for work, education, medical appointments, and shopping.
The Government has also announced plans to provide up to £75 million so that bus operators can continue to cap single bus fares outside of London at £2 until the end of June, saving passengers money and encouraging more people back on the bus.
First Bus are encouraging the wider public to join more than 5 million customers, who have already taken advantage of the new £2 flat fare scheme since it began on January 1st, 2023. The extension for a further three months from April 1 means there has never been a better time to take the bus.
First Bus is working closely with the UK Government and the rest of the sector to highlight the challenges we face with changing travel patterns since the pandemic.
Janette Bell, Managing Director for First Bus UK said: “We welcome the Government’s extension of the Bus Recovery Grant, which will help protect vital services for passengers for a further three months.
“We also see the Government’s continuation of the £2 fare cap as a good move to help make buses more attractive during the cost-of-living crisis. The £2 fare has been popular with our customers - over 5 million people have taken up the offer so far.
“It is now critical all parties use this three-month extension to move away from short-term funding fixes and instead, build a sustainable settlement to unlock the economic, net zero and social wellbeing potential of bus services.
“During this cost-of-living crisis, the bus offers everyone a cost-effective and environmentally friendly, alternative mode of transport. We are keen to continue to work with the UK Government and our local authority partners to unlock the benefits that buses bring to the local communities we serve across the country.”
The Government’s existing £60 million investment to cap single bus fares has already shown early signs of increased bus use, with an independent survey of 1,000 people from passenger watchdog Transport Focus showing 7% of people saying they are using the bus more.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said: “I want to make bus travel affordable for all, that’s why we’re continuing to cap fares at £2 and protecting local routes, ensuring we have a modern and efficient network that’s accessible for everyone.
“Getting more people onto reliable and affordable buses will strengthen communities and help grow the economy – connecting people to jobs, driving pensioners to see friends and family, and helping people attend medical appointments or access education.
“I’m determined to ensure that no matter where you live, you have the same opportunities to get around easily and can feel pride in your local area – which is why protecting our local bus services is so important.”
Transport Secretary Mark Harper said: “Travelling by bus remains the most popular option for commuters and families across the country, but the sector is still trying to recover after the end of the pandemic.
“We’re providing £155 million to help passengers save money on fares, get more people on the bus and protect vital bus routes – helping with the cost of living and enabling people to get where they need to in an affordable and convenient way.”
The recovery grant support comes in addition to Government investment of £3 billion in bus services by 2025, including over £1 billion to improve fares, services and infrastructure.
Notes to editors
Picture caption: Chelmsford MP Vicky Ford, Roads and Transport Minister Richard Holden and First Bus East of England Commercial Director Garry Nicholass – taken at First Bus Westway, Chelmsford Depot to announce the extension of the £2.00 fare cap and BRG funding schemes.