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Bus and Train Fares

Volume 575: debated on Thursday 6 February 2014

10. What assessment he has made of the effects of rising bus and train fares on the cost of living and the cost of travelling to work. (902422)

The fares that passengers pay are crucial to funding bus and rail operations. In rail, they contribute towards the major investment programme we are undertaking. I recognise concerns passengers have about impacts of fares on household budgets, which is why for the first time in a decade average regulated rail fares have been capped at inflation. Outside London, bus services are deregulated and fares are mainly a matter for the commercial judgment of bus operators.

Research by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation shows that single people under the age of 35 are being hit particularly hard by the cost of living crisis and are at the greatest risk of having extremely low incomes. Does the Department recognise that high fares make it even more difficult for them to find work and stay in work, particularly if it is only part-time work, which is increasingly what is on offer to them these days?

I am surprised the hon. Lady did not welcome the fact that we have capped rail fares at inflation for the first time in a decade, and I also note she was not whingeing on in the same way when, for example, council tax doubled under the last Labour Government, and every year the fuel duty escalator loaded expense on people who buy petrol, and we had above-inflation fare rises every time.