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Bus Fares

Volume 738: debated on Thursday 26 October 2023

1. What assessment he has made of the potential implications for his policies of the cost of bus fares. (906731)

The Government are investing nearly £600 million to introduce a £2 fare cap on single bus fares in England outside London. We had introduced it on 1 January 2023 to help passengers to save on their regular travel costs, but the Prime Minister announced recently that it would be extended until the end of 2024. Just this week, the Government also announced an indicative additional bus service improvement plan worth more than £13 million for West Yorkshire.

I warmly welcome the Government’s support, which is making bus journeys across Keighley and our wider area much more affordable. As a result of the bus service improvement plan, as from last month we have a new £1 zone in Keighley, making travel around the town much more affordable, with the K3 and K7 services becoming more frequent. Moreover, a single ticket for other journeys costs just £2, thanks to the Government. Does my hon. Friend agree that this demonstrates that our Conservative Government recognise the importance of local, affordable travel links that help to support our communities?

This Government certainly do. I thank my hon. Friend for raising our commitment to supporting bus services, not just in his constituency but right across the country. This is just a small part of the £3.5 billion we have invested in bus services, with much more to come, including our recent announcement of another £150 million for the bus service improvement plan from the money for Network North, starting next year.

The Department’s data shows that, between June 2022 and June 2023, bus fares dropped by 7.4% in England, outside London. Whereas in London, Wales and Scotland, where buses are devolved, fares have increased by 6%, 6.3% and 10.3% respectively.

Let me put this in context. In South Yorkshire, since 2010, bus passenger miles have dropped by 50%, which is a catastrophic fall in the use of our bus services. The cuts to services mean that many communities are now cut off completely.

When the Government came to allocate the recent funding, which is welcome, did they take account of the fact that South Yorkshire had previously had no BSIP funding whatsoever? Adding the current funding to the previous funding, South Yorkshire has had far less per passenger head than other parts of the country. Why have the Government so discriminated against South Yorkshire and my constituents?

I would welcome an Adjournment debate on South Yorkshire buses, if the hon. Member for Sheffield South East (Mr Betts) were to put in for one.

I spoke to the Mayor of South Yorkshire just this week, and he said that the authority will need around £8 million next year to put back all the services that have been removed over the past few years. In our Network North allocation, it is getting £67.8 million next year. On top of that, he is getting another £3 million in BSIP funding next year. With all the extra cash this Government are providing, he should be able to provide exactly what the hon. Gentleman suggests. That is in addition to the “Get Around for £2” fare scheme, which will benefit any of his constituents who can use a bus.