Dear Colleague on extending the fare cap

23 October 2023
Dear Colleague,
£2 Fare Cap extension & support for Community Transport Operators
Extending the £2 Bus Fare Cap

I write regarding the Government’s announcement today, confirming additional support for bus users as we extend the £2 bus fare cap until the end of 2024 and increase the funding available for Community Transport Operators. Buses are the most popular form of public transport in our country, playing a vital part in levelling up.

On 1 January, the Government introduced the £2 bus fare cap as part of our Help for Households to help passengers save on their travel costs at a time of increased cost of living. First launched for three months, the scheme has proven hugely popular and was extended until 31 October, and was planned to be followed by a £2.50 cap until November 2024, with £335 million committed to deliver these caps, save passengers money, and grow the economy. In England outside London, the local bus fares index decreased by 7.4% between June 2022 and June 2023, whereas in Scotland, Wales and London, where the buses are devolved, fares increased by 10.3%, 6.3% and 6.0%, respectively.

I am pleased to confirm that using the savings from HS2, we will extend the £2 fare, right across England until the end of December 2024. This means the government has invested nearly £600 million in capping bus fares. With over 140 bus operators running more than 5,000 routes in the scheme, maintaining the cap at £2 will ensure passengers all over the country can continue to save significant sums of their regular travel costs until 2025 and help encourage greater bus usage. My officials are working with bus operators to confirm their continued participation in the scheme from 1 November, and further updates will be provided on GOV.UK in due course.

Supporting Community Transport Operators
Our support for buses includes community transport too. Community transport offers transport for people who have difficulty using, or no access to, regular bus services or other public transport. Funding until June 2023 supported community transport operators during the COVID-19 pandemic by paying operators the same level of the Bus Service Operators Grant as they received pre-COVID, regardless of services run. This has allowed operators to run services that might otherwise have been cancelled.

I am also announcing today that the Government will continue to provide increased financial support to these community transport operators to help protect these key services by uplifting their bus service operator grant claims by 60%. This significant support will be available to operators (including in London) for claims from 1 July 2023 to the end of March 2025. This enhanced funding is part of Government’s annual Bus Service Operators Grant payments to support bus services in England outside of London, which includes up to £213 million for commercial bus operators and £42 million for Local Authorities.

I hope you will agree that the measures we have confirmed today will make a real difference to some of the most vulnerable in our society, helping people get around more easily and for less. This Government remains determined that people should have access to affordable and reliable bus services, and this funding will help us progress these aims as we continue to deliver on our commitments in the National Bus Strategy.

I look forward to keeping you updated as we continue to deliver on the vision for better bus services for passengers across England.

Yours sincerely,

The Rt Hon Mark Harper MP


  1. Bloke
    October 24, 2023

    A £2 bus fare cap is sensible and helpful. What do not help are:
    • the few services available each day
    • absence of return buses in the afternoon
    • faulty bus timetable listings left wrong for months
    • cancellation of journeys owing to driver staff shortage
    • drivers not turning up for duty
    • journeys being cancelled with no notice
    • ‘learner’ bus drivers, going the wrong way, even when guided by their on board ‘qualified’ instructors
    • late arrival of buses owing to congestion or driver lateness
    • occasional incidences of passengers waiting at bus stops for up to 2 hours with no knowledge of how much longer to wait before a bus arrives
    • overcrowding
    • failure of Park and Ride services, causing passengers to drive all the way to their destination after a wait of 45 mins, and then having to pay very high rates to park in central car parks
    • Buses with unwashed coachwork, dirty windows, dirty seats and dirty littered floors left unmaintained for weeks
    • Buses unsuitable for their driving environment, such as in Winchester, where the bus labours around narrow bends constantly changing gear, and almost never reaches a smooth run between beginning and end

    Subsidies help a little, but efficiency is more important. The simple matter of timetable reliability would be a major improvement in assisting passengers.

  2. George Sheard
    October 24, 2023

    Hi sir John

    With the money the government is offering community buses should be replaced by small electric buses, we have old diesel single decker buses causing pollution which are to big and I’m sure they are not financially viable at times,
    Spain and Turkey are already using small electric buses maybe only holding a small number of passengers connecting villages.

  3. Clifford.. Wokingham.
    October 25, 2023

    Sir John,
    To help the bus companies, and thus the fare paying public, the government should reinstate the duty relief on fuel for public service vehicles.
    Buses and trains are very expensive usually and this may go some way to explain why many people are keen to work from home.
    Operators used to offer a workers return early in the morning for mainly blue collar workers. Now this time slot is the most expensive time to travel. If the state is serious about getting people on to public transport, they need some sensible thinking to work out a viable strategy and I don’t mean just taxing people out of their cars.

  4. Bryan Harris
    October 25, 2023

    Does that mean that the bus services that were cancelled, not so long ago, at great inconvenience to many will be reinstated?

  5. Berkshire Alan
    October 25, 2023

    It’s a good start if you want to try and encourage people who do not usually use the buses to try them out, the rest is then down to the operators with regards to performance to try and keep them !
    Perhaps something similar could be considered for trains as well !

    A carrot scheme in general is far better than a stick or penalty scheme that is constantly trying to rob people who will not conform to big brother’s wishes.

    At least this way you are only subsidising users of a service, and not giving out large volumes of money for nothing.

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