Bus passenger numbers in Shropshire and elsewhere have not fully recovered since the pandemic. That has meant that buses have received extra bus subsidies from the Department for Transport (DfT) and local councils, including Shropshire Council, to keep the buses on the road. In a bid to increase passengers, the DfT has provided funding to cap single bus fares in England (outside London) at £2 until the end of March under a scheme it calls “Get Around for £2.”
This applies to most Shropshire services. It will have no impact in Ludlow, where the standard single fare on the 722 and 701 is £2 anyway. But it will reduce the fare from Ludlow to Shrewsbury from £5.30 single. Similarly, the service to Leominster will cost £2. However, the services to Kidderminster and Knighton are not part of the scheme.
On 1 April, fares will return to their current levels.
The fare cap will not benefit passengers with concessionary passes, except before 9.30am Monday to Friday.
The £2 cap does not apply to the 740 Ludlow to Knighton service. The DfT is only providing funds to services that were in place in October 2022. Minsterley Motors took over the route from Arriva at the beginning of November and does no qualify for a subsidy.
The fares on the 292 Ludlow to Kidderminster service will not be reduced because Diamond Bus are not taking part in the scheme.
The Campaign for Better Transport has called for the scheme to be made permanent, “in order to prevent the benefits of this initiative ending along with the scheme, we want to see it extended indefinitely, for the sake of our pockets, our economy and our environment”.
Boris Johnson had promised £3 billion to “level up buses across England towards London standards”. But that proved to be guff and the funding is less than half that. So far, none has reached Shropshire. There is still no news about Shropshire Council’s bid for bus funding under levelling up. We need that bid to succeed for buses to survive and thrive.