Bus fares going up

19 December 2012

An enormous amount of attention is focused on rail fare changes – less so on bus fares.

However, when you look at the underlying figures it is clear real pressure on fares is piling up. The Department for Transport has just published its latest statistics on bus fares. From September 2011 to September 2012 bus fares in England rose by 6 per cent – inflation for the same period was 2.6 per cent. This trend has been continuing for years – between March 2007 and September 2012 bus fares have gone up by over 33 per cent.

While the amounts paid for individual journeys may be relatively small, given that bus travel accounts for such a large proportion of public transport journeys this means a lot of bus passengers are facing year-on-year rises well above inflation. The drivers for these rises seem well understood but what can passengers do?

Simply finding out about fares can be difficult sometimes as we have found when trying to kick off some tracking research on bus fares. For regular passengers buying a weekly season ticket can help; while some can save money by buying ‘one-day’ tickets rather than single-leg fares. But many passengers will have little choice but to pay up or find a different way of getting around.

We are doing some research work on what drives bus passengers’ views on value for money. We are also doing some more work to try and track bus fares changes. Radio 4’s You and Yours programme did a piece on this today and Passenger Focus’s Mike Hewitson took part. Perhaps the issue is finally moving up the national agenda?

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