Bus fares outside London set to rise steeply and services cut

Bus fares outside London to rise steeply and services cutPA

Bus passengers in Britain's major cities will face huge fares increases and the loss of one service in five within the next two to three years.

A study commissioned by passenger transport bodies in Britain's six largest cities outside London calculated that travelling by bus would be 24% more expensive in 2014 than it was in 2009.

The report paints a bleak future for services in Greater Manchester, Merseyside, West Midlands, South Yorkshire, West Yorkshire and Tyne and Wear, which account for half of all bus trips outside the capita.

Mark Dowd, who chairs the group of six passenger transport authorities, told the Telegraph: "A business as usual busy policy from Government will mean bus service decline - with the most vulnerable in our society the ones who will lose out. What this report shows is that without policy change from Government we will be continually trying to run up a downward escalator of funding cuts."

The latest figures from the Department for Transport show that the number of bus passengers was 2.9% lower in 2010-11 than in the previous year. The fall has coincided with a cut in spending by Government and predictions by bus companies that they may be forced to cut lightly-used rural services.

However, the local transport minister, Norman Baker, denied there had been any cut in funding. "Nerly 80% of bus services outside London are commercially run so don't rely on direct funding from councils," he said. "There has been no cut in the financial support we provide for these services this year."

Sophie Allain of the Campaign for Better Transport, an environmental lobby group, said that good, affordable bus services were vital to give people access to jobs.

"If the Government wants to get people into work, it must make sure that our big cities have reasonably priced and fit for purpose bus services. Sadly, this report shows that bus networks could be serious damaged as various cuts to funding streams combine."

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