Transport User Voice March 2024 – Boosting buses in Cornwall

29 February 2024

Offering better value for passengers

The number of people choosing to take the bus in Cornwall has increased, almost returning to pre-Covid levels. This increase in bus usage came after Cornwall’s Bus Partnership cut travel costs for passengers to encourage passengers back onto the bus.

Transport Focus has been working with Cornwall’s Bus Partnership, which includes the Council and the main bus operators, for many years on how to use our research to help drive improvements for passengers.

Cornwall participated actively over many years in our Bus Passenger Survey. Passenger satisfaction scored well above the national average, but satisfaction with value for money remained stubbornly low. In 2019 performance was amongst the lowest of all the areas we surveyed at 57 per cent.

This led to Cornwall launching a bus fares pilot in 2022. The pilot aimed to simplify and lower fares for passengers.

Fares were lowered by an average of 36 per cent – day tickets were reduced from £9 to £5, weeklies were cut down to £20 from £28 and ‘Tap & Cap’ was introduced. To make travelling simpler, tickets can now be used across different operators.

Just over a year after the pilot launched (June 2023), eight in 10 passengers said they were satisfied with value for money, measured by our new Your Bus Journey survey.

Does dropping fares encourage more people to travel by bus? Since its start in April 2022, over 20 per cent more passengers, as part of the Bus Fares Pilot, travelled in the first six months of 2023/24 than the same period of 2022/23.

The next challenge will be to maintain this improvement.

At a recent session, we talked the Council and bus operators through the interim results of the 2023 Your Bus Journey survey. We recommended that the partnership digs deep into its headline performance figures, asking questions to enable it to pinpoint where action appears to be working and where further action is needed. We are pleased that the Council and operators have agreed to set up a working group to investigate and we have been invited to lead an initial session.


Back to newsletter