Maintaining the bus fare cap at £2 is a move in the right direction - George Jabbour
At the beginning, it was proposed to cap fares across the country for three months only: from January to March 2023. This measure was motivated by the desire to assist bus operators in light of rocketing energy prices and figures showing that passenger numbers had not returned to pre-Covid levels. Because of the excellent response to this policy, the cap was subsequently extended until June 2023.
This came at the right time for Yorkshire-based passengers who had been concerned about the future of the Coastliner 840 service, named Britain’s Most Scenic Bus Route.
This acclaimed service, which links Leeds and York with the port of Whitby via Malton and Pickering, had been at risk. However, it was saved thanks to healthier customer numbers. Having been on board this journey on many occasions, I personally have noticed the difference.
A couple of months later, there was another piece of good news: maximum fares would stay at £2 per bus trip until the end of October of this year when the cap would then increase to £2.50 until November 2024.
As I don’t have a car, I regularly rely on buses and other forms of public transport, which I find an efficient way to commute.
I live in a rural area, so getting from one place to another by car tends to take a long time. From my perspective, riding the bus provides me with the opportunity to reply to emails using my smartphone, while being transported to my destination.
Technology has expanded the appeal of public transport as more passengers watch a film or complete their work on the move, but it has also led more individuals to work from home and to remotely attend virtual meetings, hence diminishing the need to travel and the demand for buses.
Moreover, the environment is an important factor given that emissions are reduced and energy consumption is decreased when people share a journey.
A trip on the bus is more enjoyable and less stressful than driving a car as one does not have to worry about a raft of issues, such as having to find a parking spot.
I have consistently campaigned to support the £2 cap. I was delighted when previous extensions were announced, including the most recent decision to keep the fare at £2 until December 31, 2024. This demonstrates further commitment to this course of action. Because bus journeys in rural areas take longer and are more expensive, the savings that the cap offers in North Yorkshire are higher than in urban centres, where fares could sometimes be less than £2 a trip.
The key challenge is to ensure that we do not lose our existing bus routes as services that do not attract enough passengers could be cut or terminated.
As we continue to benefit from the £2 fare cap, I hope that our current services are preserved and some routes could be improved in frequency and availability.
George Jabbour is the councillor for Helmsley & Sinnington.