What is the deal with bus fares lately? What does it mean for you?

Photograph of the inside of a bus with purple seats | Smarter Travel Limited

Cities across the UK will be facing a rise in bus fares if government does not extend their funding after March. The Bus Recovery Support Grant was set up to support commercial bus operators in England due to the ongoing impacts of coronavirus. The scheme was designed to bridge the gap between low passenger numbers and running a commercially viable bus service. The grant, worth over £255 million supported bus operators through the pandemic, however, there is concern that there will be a 30% reduction in current bus services when this support ends.

The price jump will mean that UK passengers combined will be paying an estimated £151m more to travel this year. As a consequence to the potential funding cuts, bus operators across the whole of the UK are having to increase fares. For example, in Norwich, an adult day ticket within the Norwich zone on First Bus services has recently increased by 60p, and a young person day ticket has increased by 20p. Adult single tickets on Ipswich Buses will also increase by 10p, and an adult return ticket will increase by 20p.

Who will be affected?

People with no access to private cars, including many younger, older or disabled people and those on a low income, rely on a good, affordable bus service.

Bus travel accounts for more than two thirds of all public transport journeys and are an environmentally friendly option for local trips.

However, due to the pandemic, bus use and provision have declined over time, presenting a threat to local buses, and affecting passengers who rely on bus services in their daily lives.

Other than price jumps, some bus services might also be reduced. Suffolk County Council released a list of reduced services on their website. Click here to check how you might be affected. Cambridge Stagecoaches also updates their website regularly regarding their existing bus services.

If you are a resident of a Smarter Travel development, find out, using the links below, what your local bus operator is doing:

Should you keep taking the bus?

These price jumps might see a reduction of passengers. If you are hesitant to take the bus due to its price jump, don’t be. Taking the bus can still be a more cost-effective alternative compared to car ownership with the average cost of more than £1,000 a year for fuel, car insurance, MOT, vehicle excise duty (road tax) and more.

Moreover, taking the bus is a great way of travelling as it allows you to incorporate exercise into your daily routine. Government guidance recommends 30 minutes of exercise per day, and the walk from your doorstep to the bus stop contributes to it! Not only does it increase your daily steps, but it also boosts blood circulation.

During peak travel times, buses can be a quicker alternative to driving and a more efficient way to get to your destination due to dedicated bus lanes. If there was traffic ahead prior to your stop, it also gives you the flexibility that you could get off a stop earlier to avoid being stuck waiting.

How to enjoy bus travelling?

Bus travelling is one of the best ways to travel especially if you are new to the city. It is a great way to familiarise and observe the streets, the atmosphere and meet local people.

Studies have shown that a third of Britons admit that they deliberately catch the bus to have some human contact. Buses are the bridge to help local communities thrive by connecting local people and strengthening community ties.

Bus travelling can also be a form of relaxation.

While taking the bus, it frees your head and hands, and gives you time to check on some life admin or catch up with the news. Our Travel Plan Coordinator Eden, says that she spends time on the bus catching up with the Winter Olympics!

Another tip before taking the bus next time, is to check your local bus operator’s website or social media, to see what ticket options they offer that is best suited to your travelling habits. If you’re working from home more often and are travelling only a few times on the bus a week, why not check out the offers such as weekly tickets, flexi tickets, or 10 trip tickets?

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