We’re always told we need to catch more public transport. But ticket prices for buses can sometimes feel extortionate compared to popping in the car, riding a bike or walking. This becomes more true the further out of the city you go – in the countryside a single ticket can cost as high as £5. Thankfully, come January 1, Birmingham bus services will cap bus fares to sway more people into hopping aboard.
Around 130 bus operators around the country will take part in a government scheme to freeze bus fares at £2. This includes National Express, which operates many buses in Birmingham, alongside several other West Midlands services. National Express will even go a step further by making child tickets cost only £1.
Backed by £60 million of government funding, the ‘Get Around for £2’ scheme aims to help passengers during the cost of living crisis. Initially, the bus fares cap was expected to last an entire year. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has scaled it back to just 12 weeks, however, and will end it on March 31.
The scheme hopes to not only help struggling households, however. Other benefits highlighted include cutting traffic congestion and carbon emissions. While it will hopefully also offer a boost to local businesses, as residents more easily traverse their hometowns. So there is good reason for the scheme to continue in the future.
After March, it will be up to individual operators to carry on with the price cap or not, however. Similar caps already exist in Manchester, Liverpool and West Yorkshire, with Andy Burnham, Mayor of Manchester, saying back in September: “the more that people use the buses, the more likely it is that we will be able to sustain [the fare cap].”
It is likely similar events would result in similar outcomes in Birmingham. For now, we will have to wait and see if the bus fare freeze can convince Brummies to get on board. To see which services are taking part head here.