The transport secretary has confirmed £155m in funding to extend the current £2 cap on bus fares across England until 30 June 2023.
In England, the average single local bus ticket currently costs £2.80, meaning the cap offers savings of almost a third of ticket prices in some areas.
Rishi Sunak, UK prime minister, 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.”
Current bus patronage stands at 85 to 90% of pre-pandemic levels, which the government says represents an ongoing challenge for bus operators. However, it added that a survey of 1,000 people from passenger watchdog Transport Focus showed that 7% of people said they were using the bus services more since the cap was implemented.
Prior to the £155m boost, the government invested £60m in supporting a cap on bus fares across England.
Mark Harper, UK transport secretary, 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 £155m 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’s commitment to investing £3bn in bus services by 2025, which includes more than £1bn to improve fares, services and infrastructure.
What’s more, this funding represents just one part of its ongoing work with bus operators to support the delivery of the National Bus Strategy.
In 2021, the government published the National Bus Strategy and asked all English local transport authorities outside London to publish Bus Service Improvement Plans (BSIPs) to improve local services.
The government claims that, since then, it has awarded more than £1bn in funding to support upgrades across 34 counties.