Bus passengers hit with above-inflation fare rises

London double decker

Bus passengers have been hit with above-inflation fare rises, new figures show. It comes just months after a report criticised the state of privatised public transport in the UK.

‘Public’ transport for profit

The Department for Transport (DfT) said fares in England increased by 1.7% in the year to March. The Consumer Prices Index (CPI) measure of inflation grew by just 0.7% over the same period. The rise was driven by the price of bus travel in London increasing by 3.3%.

Since March 2005, bus fares across England have increased by 80%, whereas CPI has risen by just 44%. Separate figures from the Office for National Statistics show that average bus and coach fares are nearly six times more expensive than they were in 1987. Over the same period, the price of train tickets has become around four-and-a-half times higher, while motoring costs are just two-and-a-half times more expensive.

The DfT’s annual bus statistics show that 52% of England’s 32,600 buses met the latest Euro VI emissions standards, and a further 2% were zero-emission. The figures also illustrate the drop in demand due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Total passenger journeys fell by 61% to 1.57 billion in the year ended in March compared with the previous 12 months. Bus mileage decreased by just 16% as Government grants kept many services running for key workers.

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David Sidebottom, director at Transport Focus, the independent watchdog for passengers, said:

As passengers consider returning to travelling by bus, it’s essential that services are clean, turn up on time and offer good value for money. Following the pandemic, operators and local authorities must continue to work together to attract passengers back.

They will need to deliver a reliable service and offer attractive fares that reflect the way people want to travel.

The Confederation of Passenger Transport, a trade body representing bus firms, said separate figures based on more recent data showed that bus travel had “bounced back more quickly than other forms of public transport”, reaching 80% of pre-pandemic levels. It called for the government to “encourage people back on to the bus” and provide sufficient funding to avoid smaller cities and towns being “starved of investment”.


In July, a report looked at the state of privatised public transport in the UK. Author Philip Alston said at the time:

Over the past 35 years, deregulation has provided a master class in how not to run an essential public service, leaving residents at the mercy of private actors who have total discretion over how to run a bus route, or whether to run one at all.

In case after case, service that was once dependable, convenient, and widely-used has been scaled back dramatically or made unaffordable.

The absence of a strong public bus system affects a great many people’s economic opportunities, but also their means to participate in their communities, travel to football matches or libraries, and visit family and friends.

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  • Show Comments
    1. Bus passengers hit with above-inflation fare rises

      Well not too surprised here public the Tory Govt lets the private sector dictate the prices of tickets on Buses +Trains now not Govt.

      We also need to understand -Tax-Payer we subsidize them as well
      So technically we are being ripped off by train firms + Bus serves run by private Business people in all areas of U.K.

      In some local area we council tax payer also fund them with
      Public tax payer money and our local area council tax bills money as well so we resident in some local area get screwed over even when we fund them with our taxpayer money + council tax funding In some places we still get big, priced ticket passed onto us public and Tory Govt let this go on WHY?
      (Could it be they fund the Tory party I ask myself?)
      This is why I use Taxis not buses or trains transport at all if I can.
      I also get picked up outside my home and dropped off at the front door to where I am going no need to stand in a bus shelter freezing to death in the rain as vandals have kicked out the windows and dog owners have let their dogs C**p in the bus shelters and do no pick it up after them.

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