MSE News

Single bus journeys in England to be capped at £2 for the first three months of next year - here's all you need to know

The fare for single bus journeys in England will be capped at £2 between 1 January and 31 March next year, while in Scotland rail fares will be frozen until at least March 2023, both in an effort to help tackle the cost of living crisis. The bus fare cap will only apply to single journeys but the Department for Transport (DfT) said the move could save passengers an average of £3 per single fare.

The Scottish Government announced that ScotRail train fares will be frozen from today (6 September) and will NOT increase until 31 March 2023. We have more on this at the end of the article and in this MSE News story.

The DfT told that it expects around 80% of bus operators in England to take part in the scheme and that the fare cap will apply to most services - but it wasn't able to confirm yet which operators would be taking part. We've asked some of the main operators, including Arriva, First Bus, and Stagecoach if they plan to take part and we will update this story when we know more. 

The bus fare cap will initially be in place for a "minimum period" of three months, according to the DfT, and will then be reviewed on an "ongoing basis". We've asked if this means the cap could be extended.

See our Cheap Train Tickets guide for how to cut costs if you're travelling by train or our Cheap Petrol and Diesel guide for cutting costs when travelling by car.

You don't need to do anything to get the reduced price - it'll just depend on whether the firm you're travelling with is taking part in the scheme

The flat rate cap will only apply to single journeys, so any return trips will be charged at their usual price - but check if it may be cheaper to buy two single tickets instead of a return once the fare cap comes in. The cap will also only apply to bus routes, not coaches.

We're checking whether the fare cap will apply 24 hours a day, or only at certain times of day, and we will update the story when we know more. 

The bus fare cap will only apply to journeys in England

Currently, the fare cap will only be applicable in England.

We asked the devolved nations - Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales - if they planning a similar scheme. Here's what they told us:

Ticket prices will remain the same on the newly nationalised ScotRail, where a review was due to take effect in January, capped by the rate of inflation in July.

  • The Scottish Government said that fares in many parts of Scotland are already below £2 but that it would consider how the cap will work in England for the future. It also provides free bus travel to all children and young people under 22.
  • The Welsh Government told us it set out long-term changes to its bus network in a consultation published earlier this year, which is designed to put in place a governance system to ensure an "affordable" and "comprehensive" public transport service. 
  • The Northern Irish Government did not respond to requests for comment.

ScotRail fares will be frozen until 2023

In Scotland, ScotRail train fares will be frozen from today (6 September) and will NOT increase until 31 March 2023, as part of plans set out by Scottish PM  Nicola Sturgeon.

Fare prices were previously set to be reviewed, and potentially increased, in January 2023. See our MSE News story for more.

Again, we've asked the other devolved nations - England, Norther Ireland and Wales, if they plan to implement a similar scheme and will update when we know more. 

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