Bus fares to be capped at £2 on thousands of routes in England - but only until end of March

Bus fares will be capped at £2 on more than 4,600 routes in England - but only until the end of March.

More than 130 operators outside London will charge no more than £2 for a single ticket from today, the Department for Transport said.

The move is being paid for by £60m in government funding.

Some of the biggest savings will be on routes between Leeds and Scarborough, where the usual price is around £13; Lancaster and Kendal, where it's £12.50; and Plymouth and Exeter - £9.20.

Transport Secretary Mark Harper said: "By helping passengers outside London save almost a third off the average single bus ticket and taking two million cars off the road, the £2 bus fare cap is a fantastic way to start the new year.

"Buses are a key part of our vision for a clean, efficient and modern transport network that is affordable for everyone.

"That's why we're investing £60m to encourage everyone to hop on the bus and 'Get Around for £2'."

Back in July, the Campaign For Better Transport published a report showing how funding pressures had led to more than a quarter of English bus services being axed in the past 10 years.

'Injecting new life into dwindling bus services'

Commenting on the new £2 fare cap, the organisation's director of external affairs and former Lib Dem transport minister Norman Baker said: "Affordable bus travel really is a win-win.

"Capping bus fares in this way will help struggling households, cut traffic congestion and carbon emissions, and inject new life into dwindling bus services.

"We think the £2 cap should be extended indefinitely."

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Buses minister Richard Holden said it is hoped the cap would boost passenger numbers - paid-for fares are up around 80-85% of pre-pandemic levels, while concessionary travel is about two-thirds.

The DfT made more than £2bn available to bus operators to keep services in England running during the coronavirus pandemic.

'Just the fuel we need for economic growth'

But Mr Holden said: "What I really want to do is try and move away from a situation where we're constantly having to put more money in to subsidise routes, and instead get people back on buses so that they can be more self-sustaining for the long term."

Martin McTague, national chair of the Federation of Small Businesses, said: "More than a third of small firms consider public transport important to their business.

"It is, therefore, encouraging to see support on bus fares as we battle tough economic conditions.

"This move will likely encourage shoppers to go to towns and cities - just the fuel we need for economic growth."