Bus fares across Bristol, Bath and the West of England are changing – with a £2 flat fare for a single journey introduced for the first time. The West of England metro mayor announced the changes today (September 20) and they will be brought in from this coming Sunday (September 25).
But while the price of single fares and returns are being cut, the cost of a day ticket is going up – and it’s also the end for the cheap ‘three-stop-hop’ ticket. The changes mean that all single adult tickets in Bristol and Bath will be reduced to £2 – they are £2.20 right now – and returns will be cut from £4 to £3.50.
But the price of a day rider will jump from £5.30 to £6 in Bristol, and from £5 in Bath to £5.60. Child fares are also being cut to just £1 for a single.
The new fares are part of a major package of changes designed to make bus fares simpler and cheaper, and to encourage more people to get back on the buses post-Covid. The metro mayor for the West of England, Dan Norris, said the new fares will start on September 25 on the vast majority of buses in the region, before being introduced across all routes – regardless of the operator – by the end of October.
Mr Norris said he hoped the simpler and cheaper fares would encourage people to get back on the buses, where passenger numbers are still 25 per cent down on pre-Covid levels. “It’s time to get on board for new fares,” Mr Norris said.
“I’m delighted to be able to introduce this package immediately to offer a small helping hand to people facing a crippling cost-of-living crisis. At a time where the challenges on the buses are so huge, this is a real opportunity to create that virtuous cycle of more fare income to reinvest in our bus network which in turn will mean better buses for everyone.
“So my big message to local people is: please take advantage of this and take your children out for just £1. The more journeys you make, the more you will be helping us together to build the local bus system we both need and deserve. It’s also so very vital if we are going to meet our super ambitious local 2030 net-zero targets,” he added.
The new fares in full
Child fare, West of England wide (age 5-15) – from 50% (of adult fares) to £1
Child fare, West of England wide (age 5-15) (return) – from 50% (of adult fares) to £2
Bristol and Bath single fare – from £2.20 to £2
Bristol and Bath return fare – from £4.30 to £3.50
Bristol and Bath 3-stop hop – from £1.50 to £2
Bristol Day – from £5.30 to £6
Bath Day – from £5 to £5.60
Bristol Week – from £21.50 to £23.50
Bath Week – from £21 to £22
Weston-super-Mare single – from £1.60 to £1.60
West of England, 0-3 miles – from £2.30 to £2.30
West of England, 0-3 miles (return) – from £4.40 to £3.50
West of England, 3-6 miles – from £3.30 to £3.30
West of England, 3-6 miles (return) – from £6.30 to £4
West of England, 6-9 miles – from £4.50 to £3.70
West of England, 6-9 miles (return) – from £7.50 to £5
West of England, 9-12 miles – from £5.50 to £3.70
West of England, 9-12 miles (return) – from £7.50 to £5
West of England, 12+ miles – from £6.50 to £3.70
West of England Day – from £7.50 to £7
Student fares – 75%
Even though North Somerset still isn’t part of the West of England combined authority, the new fares will apply there to journeys taking place solely in the West of England combined authority area plus North Somerset. The scheme is a joint initiative from the West of England Combined Authority (WECA), North Somerset Council and the bus operators, including First Bus, Stagecoach West and others.
“I’m so pleased that we are finally able to bring some much needed good news to our bus passengers across the region,” said Councillor Steve Hogg, the transport lead on North Somerset Council. “An affordable and reliable bus network is the very cornerstone of our future plans for decarbonisation and our net-zero commitments. I’m hopeful and confident that today marks the beginning of what promises to be an exciting road ahead for our public transport services here in the West of England,” he added.
What the bus companies say
The bus companies have long resisted calls for the West of England metro mayor to create a franchise system for public transport in the region, but recently have been wrestling with their own triple whammy of a driver shortage, lower passenger numbers and rising costs of things like fuel. A series of crisis talks have been held in recent months, and the collapse of Bristol Community Transport and the axing of a number of bus routes across Bristol, South Gloucestershire and Bath this year has seen a major crisis in public transport in the region.
The boss of First West of England, the biggest bus company in the region by far, said WECA has been able to come up with the money to enable this fare reduction, with the aim of encouraging people back onto the buses. “With rising living costs, we are delighted that the West of England authority and North Somerset Council have been able to provide operators in the region with financial support that enables significant reductions to these key West of England fares,” said First’s boss, Doug Clarinbold.
“Passenger numbers on our services are still significantly down on pre-pandemic levels and we are seeing some of our longer distance services that connect our towns and cities or serve more rural areas facing a particularly difficult time. Lower single, return and day ticket fares will help these services at a time when most things are going up in price. We hope this will encourage more people to use our services so that as we take action to increase driver numbers and improve the reliability of our services, we can accelerate the recovery in bus use across the region,” he said.
And Rachel Geliamassi, the managing director of Stagecoach West, added: “Supportive measures to keep fares low can provide an attractive incentive to help attract new passengers on to the bus. It also builds on steps we have already been taking to give local people, including jobseekers, the best value travel we can. Investment by our West of England combined authority and North Somerset council partners in priority measures is also key to making buses more attractive, keeping them out of congestion, making journeys quicker and more reliable, and reducing operational costs that put pressure on fares.
“We look forward to working with Mayor Norris and the combined authority to ensure this initiative supports the long-term sustainability of the region’s bus network, which is vital in connecting communities with jobs, education and skills, as well as friends, family, and essential public services,” she added.