Go-Ahead’s bus companies have carried ten million passengers at the nationwide promotional fare of £2 since the Government began funding a scheme capping the price of bus travel on New Year’s Day. As of today, Go-Ahead bus companies outside London have sold more than £20 million worth of tickets.
The initiative, which is part of the Government’s Help for Households initiative, has made bus travel cheaper on all of Go-Ahead’s regional bus companies – which have networks stretching from Cornwall to Northumberland.
The biggest seller of discount tickets in the Go-Ahead network is Brighton & Hove Buses and Metrobus, where more than 2.5 million passengers have travelled at £2.
On certain routes, passenger numbers have jumped significantly. For example, a route in Buckinghamshire operated by Go-Ahead’s Carousel Buses has seen a 130% uplift in passenger numbers since the beginning of the year. Route 102, which runs from Heathrow Airport to High Wycombe via Beaconsfield and Gerrard’s Cross, has proven particularly popular under the scheme.
Initially planned to run until the end of March, the £2 adult single fares offer across England was recently extended by three months to the end of June, backed with an additional £75 million of funding from the Department for Transport.
Martin Dean, Go-Ahead’s Managing Director, Regional Bus, said: “The £2 fare cap is an excellent initiative to promote bus travel, and it is great news that it will continue. This valuable funding will safeguard hundreds of routes which are commercially challenging but important for local people.
“Buses provide vital connections for local communities across the United Kingdom and we’re pleased to be working with the Department for Transport to make them as affordable as possible. A big increase in passenger numbers on services such as Carousel Buses’ route 102 demonstrates how popular this offer is proving to be.”
Participating Go-Ahead bus companies include:
Brighton & Hove Buses and Metrobus
Go South Coast – Bluestar, Morebus, Southern Vectis, Salisbury Reds and Swindon’s Bus Company
Go South West – Plymouth Citybus, Go Cornwall, Go Devon and Dartline
The Oxford Bus Company – including Carousel Buses and Thames Travel
Go East Anglia – Konectbus, Hedingham and Chambers
East Yorkshire Buses
Go North East
Go-Ahead is offering passengers the chance to enter a prize competition by submitting a short video of their £2 bus, journey, route, or destination, with an Apple iPhone for the winner. Videos of up to 1 minute 30 seconds are eligible – the more creative the better.
Shortlisted entries will be shared on the group’s social media channels. Entries can be submitted here.
Case study: passenger numbers take off on airport route
Carousel Buses’ route 102 is an hourly service between Heathrow Airport and the Buckinghamshire towns of High Wycombe, Beaconsfield and Gerrards Cross. It is a popular service both with local residents travelling to the airport to catch flights, and with people who work at Britain’s busiest airport.
Passenger numbers were hit during 2020 and 2021 by the COVID-19 pandemic, during which the section between Uxbridge and Heathrow was temporarily suspended, and by closures to road tunnels in autumn 2022. Following a partnership with Heathrow Airport, funding was gained to re-instate the link to the airport from July 2022 and this helped passenger recovery begin.
The trajectory of recovery has accelerated dramatically since January 1st, when the cost of a single fare for the full journey was reduced from £8 to £2 by the Government’s fare capping scheme. Within the first 8 weeks of the new year, passenger numbers doubled – and they are now 130% higher than they were at the end of 2022.
The impact has taken cars off the road, and has contributed to Heathrow Airport’s goals of decarbonising local transport to the airport and improving passenger transport mode share.