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Regional bus fares to rise as industry struggles to meet rising costs

Published: Thursday 13 Jun 2024

Fares for day and season bus tickets are set to rise by an average of 6% at the end of June as the industry struggles to meet the ongoing challenges of rising costs.  

The decision will see, for example, the nbus day ticket rise by 30p to £4.80 and the four week fare rise from £60 to £64. This has been agreed by all bus operators in the Transport for West Midlands (TfWM) area. 

Despite the increase the new fares continue to offer great value to passengers and remain lower than equivalent fares in Liverpool City Region and Greater Manchester.  

The single fare remains set at £2, capped under a funding agreement with the Department for Transport, until at least the end of this year. 

The increase ensures that the region’s bus network remains operating at current levels while an ongoing review, launched by TfWM last year, looks at the long-term sustainability of bus services. The review will be reported back to the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) Board next month. 

With 232 million journeys a year, buses remain the backbone of the region’s public transport network, and a crucial part of TfWM’s plans to reduce car use, cut traffic congestion, improve air quality and meet the region’s net-zero carbon targets. Tens of thousands of people continue to rely on the bus for their daily commute to work, school and college as well as for regular trips to the shops or medical appointments. 

But bus operators are under acute financial pressures due to steep rises in the cost of fuel, maintenance and labour over recent years and stubborn passenger numbers which remain at around 90% of pre-Covid 19 levels. 

TfWM, which is part of the WMCA, is already pumping around £50 million a year into the bus network to support essential services, avoid more substantial fare increases or service reductions. 

Pete Bond, director of integrated transport services with TfWM, said: “Despite many challenges we have worked with bus operators since the pandemic to keep fare rises to an absolute minimum. 

“And even though they are rising, fares remain great value for the many people who rely on buses day in and day out. 

“At the same time we are working on plans to secure the long-term future of our bus network and will announce the results of the review in the coming weeks.” 

Using Bus Service Improvement Plan funding the region has already implemented a ‘bonfire of bus tickets’ by securing a uniform fare structure across all private operators, meaning passengers no longer pay extra to use services run by multiple companies. It has also funded new Transport Safety Officers who are out on patrol to keep passengers safe, deter crime and tackle anti-social behaviour. 

Further investment has been directed at improving infrastructure including more bus lanes and priority junctions to improve reliability of services on key commuter routes, enhancing real time journey information and the introduction of hundreds of zero-emission electric buses through the Coventry All-Electric Bus City project.

The full details are available from bus operators or via the TfWM website.

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