Greater Manchester – the First Major Authority Outside London to Cap Bus Fares
It was interesting to note that the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) has announced a cap for bus fares, launching this month. Facilitated by Mayor Andy Burnham and other Greater Manchester leaders in response to current cost of living concerns, reduced fares will save passengers up to 50% on bus journeys. The plan to lower fares is supported by UK government funding through the Bus Service Improvement Plan.
Perhaps Manchester’s move is now influencing wider public transport policy. Before the recent cabinet reshuffle, former Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, announced that bus fares across the UK will be capped at £2 from January to March. With over 90% of operators signing up for the scheme, the £60 million proposal will reduce ticket prices by 30% on average.
These announcements can be seen as part of a wider global trend towards authorities subsidising public transport, as can be seen in Germany, Spain and Austria, or even making it completely free, like in Luxembourg and New Zealand.
While only time will tell whether such policies will deliver a long-term public transport ridership increase, new ways of thinking are certainly needed – for environmental as well as financial reasons.
Transport accounts for around one-fifth of global carbon emissions. Schemes to help transition the public to using public transport will inevitably have a wider impact on the environment – one double decker bus can take up to 75 cars off the road. We discuss the sustainability of public transport further in our article about decarbonising the bus network.
Manchester’s announcement certainly seems like a step in the right direction. Subsidised public transport would reduce congestion and emissions and improve air quality, while supporting people through the present cost-of-living crisis.
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