Angry at rail fare rises? Local bus ticket prices are rising just as fast
The cost of bus travel has risen as much as trains – and they’re more popular, discovers
Bus fare increases have flown under the radar for decades, despite rising just as fast as train fares and the fact that buses are used by more people.
Outcry over rail fare increases – this year of 3.1pc – has become an annual tradition, as the overall cost of commuting by train has risen by 45pc since 2010. But campaigners have pointed out that bus passengers have had it just as tough.
According to the Government’s National Travel Survey published last year, the number of journeys taken by bus far outstrips those taken by train. Both modes of transport have seen fare rises above the rate of inflation.
Excluding London buses and the Tube, the average person travelled by bus 37 times in 2017 and only 21 times by rail. Overall, 6pc of all journeys were by bus, compared with just 2pc by train.
Research suggests rail travel is mainly concentrated in London and the South East, with rural communities in particular heavily reliant on bus travel. A study by polling agency Yougov showed that 39pc of people did not set foot on a train in the past 12 months, with most making fewer than two journeys.
The Campaign for Better Transport revealed in October that government funding for buses, which is largely provided by local authorities, fell by more than £20m in 2017-18 alone.
Darren Shirley, the group’s chief executive, said: “Bus services are the backbone of local public transport systems and are vital for the economy, to get people into work or school and to access essential services.
“Buses are under threat from cuts to funding, which is leading to withdrawal of services or increased fares, and are the only form of transport without a national investment strategy. The Government must realise the importance of bus services and do more to help support the local public transport networks serving urban and rural communities alike. The first step would be to have a coherent policy to support buses.”
After the rail fare increases, which came into force on Wednesday, commuters are paying more than £800 a year extra for their season tickets compared with 2010. It is difficult to make comparisons with buses, as prices are set regionally.
Transport Secretary Chris Grayling announced a new railcard giving discounts to 16 and 17-year-olds, as well as an extension to the “millennial” railcard for those aged 26 to 30. There are also various discounts for students who use the bus.
Bus fares and routes have been hit by cuts to local government funding