Thousands of single bus journeys in England to be capped until December 2024 – here's all you need to know
The fare for thousands of single bus journeys in England will be capped at £2 until 31 December 2024. It could save passengers a third off the cost of a ticket on average, according to the Department for Transport (DfT), which is behind the move.
The £2 fare cap was originally planned to run between January and March 2023, but was later extended until 30 June and then again until 31 October 2023. It has now been extended again until the end of 2024.
The cap had also been due to rise to £2.50 from 1 November 2023 but this rise has now been axed and fares will remain at £2. The fare cap will be reviewed once more closer to its revised end date.
Below we explain all you need to know. You can also see our Cheap train tickets guide for how to cut costs if you're travelling by train, and our Cheap petrol and diesel guide for help cutting costs when travelling by car.
You don't need to do anything to get the reduced price – but not all bus services are taking part
The flat rate cap only applies to single journeys – one trip, on one bus – at any time of day. Return and multi-bus journeys and daily or weekly tickets continue to be charged at their usual price, so check if it may be cheaper to buy single tickets instead. The cap only applies to bus routes, not to coach fares.
Over 5,000 routes in England are currently capped under the scheme. For the full list, check the Gov.uk website. The Department for Transport says this list will be updated on 1 November with the operators taking part from then.
The biggest savings can be made on the longest routes; for example, a single bus journey from Lancaster to Kendall normally costs £14.50 – meaning you'll save £12.50 with the fare cap.
Single bus fares in Bath, Bristol, Greater Manchester, London, Merseyside, and West Yorkshire are already capped at no more than £2 a journey through existing ongoing schemes, which aren't part of the current cap.
The bus fare cap only applies to journeys in England
The fare cap is only currently applicable in England.
We asked the devolved governments in Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales if they are planning a similar scheme. Here's what they told us:
- In Northern Ireland bus fares went up by 7% on average from 6 March 2023. This was their first increase in four years. The Department for Infrastructure said the changes were needed to "maintain and improve" public transport services. It has asked Northern's Ireland's public transport operator, Translink, to examine options for revising fares in March 2024, but no decisions have been made yet.
- The Scottish Government said fares in many parts of the country are already below £2 but that it would consider how a cap could potentially work in future. It also provides free bus travel to over 60s, disabled people and 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 in 2022. These are designed to put in place a governance system to ensure an "affordable" and "comprehensive" public transport service.