22 February 2023

£2 Fare Deal Extended until end of June!

Millions of passengers across England will benefit from £155 million in government support to cap bus fares at £2, maintain services and ensure people can travel affordably. The Transport Secretary today (17 February 2023) confirmed £80 million from 1 April to 30 June 2023 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. With the average single local bus ticket costing £2.80, passengers can save almost a third of the ticket price. Bus operators that are continuing the £2 fare cap scheme will be confirmed in due course.

During the pandemic, bus usage dropped as low as 10% of pre-pandemic levels, and the government has provided unprecedented financial support totalling more than £2 billion since March 2020.

With bus patronage still at around 85 to 90% of pre-coronavirus (COVID-19) levels, there are a number of ongoing challenges for bus operators. The government is working closely with the sector on the challenges they face with changing travel patterns since the pandemic and will continue to work on delivering the National Bus Strategy.

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. During these difficult economic times, these trends already indicate that the government’s support to cap fares is a welcome intervention, helping families, commuters and all passengers to ease the cost of living.

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.

In 2021, the government published the National Bus Strategy, and asked all English local transport authorities outside London to publish their Bus Service Improvement Plans (BSIPs) setting out local visions for the step-change in bus services that is needed, driven by what passengers and would-be passengers want.

Since then, over £1 billion has been awarded to 34 counties, city regions and unitary authorities to deliver service improvements, bus priority and ambitious fares initiatives. In addition, £5.7 billion investment has been provided to 8 mayoral combined authorities in England to support integrated, cross-modal transport networks over the next 5 years through the City Region Sustainable Transport Settlement (CRSTS), including supporting bus infrastructure.


It does say that operators that will continue to participate in the scheme will be announced in due course. I would be surprised if our local operators decided against it!


  1. The link now lists the operators who are participating in the scheme and the routes affected. Most of our operators look as though they are included. Anything that gets people back onto the buses has to be welcomed.
    I understand that some smaller companies elsewhere have taken the decision not to participate, because of the bureaucracy involved.
    I do worry about what will happen when the scheme comes to an end and passengers find that their cheap fare rises to the previous high level. I would expect there to be some resistance then, but, for the time being, it's a welcome initiative.

    1. Hopefully Companies will see significant increases in the loads on each trip, and when prices revert back, they are able to charge less as they are transporting more people. Pile it high, price it low kind of thing. Any operator that whacks prices straight back up and attempts to take advantage of the increased loadings is destined to lose all the increased footfall they get from this scheme!

    2. Citybus have already said their fares will increase once £2 offer ceases

  2. Unfortunately the fares will go up as it a government scheme the tax payer makes up the footfall from loss of revenue due to capped fares. The Dart for example You can do gunislake-exeter for £4 return at the moment it was £12 return or £10 for a day ticket the service is slightly more used but if first kept the £2 single it would need 4 passengers to make up pre scheme revenue of 1 passenger.

  3. The issue, and this will apply to operators in the south west, is that whilst operators were prepared to deal with any growth created (effectively for free as payment for the £2 fare scheme was a fixed payment not variable depending on usage) during a quiet period of the year they are unable to carry this through into a higher demand period of the year with better weather (as will apply April-June). Go South Coast have already stated that they will have this issue, highlighting routes around Swanage as examples, as they already struggled with demand on full fares so they see issues around a reduced fare increasing demand to a level they cannot afford to meet without a much higher level of reimbursement. This is separate from the other issue that some operators who agreed to participate due to the scheme only running for 3 months in the quietest time of year despite anticipating a risk of losing money on the scheme will no longer will be willing to carry losses for a further 3 months into busier times of year. There doesn't appear to be a lot more money available this time round so repayment being insufficient may not be resolved.


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