Thank you for contacting me about the affordability of transport.
I recognise your concerns relating to the affordability of transport at this very difficult time. I know these concerns are shared at the heart of Government and tangible action is therefore being taken on bus and rail fares to help millions of people travel at reduced cost during this challenging period.
As you may know, rail fares are rising by 5.9 per cent for 2023. This well below the current retail price index (RPI) inflation and 6.4 percentage points below the July 2022 RPI on which these fares are historically based. Normally, the Government increases fares by RPI plus one per cent each year, but this formula has not been applied in 2023 as it wasn't in 2022. Capping rail fares at 5.9 per cent strikes a fair balance, ensuring that the Government can continue to invest in a more modern, reliable railway, while easing the burden on taxpayers and protecting passengers from the highest retail price inflation in years. Furthermore, the Government delayed fare increases by three months to March 2023, giving passengers more time to purchase cheaper flexible and season tickets at the existing rate.
Over the long-term, it is important to note that rail fare revenue is crucial to funding day-to-day railway operations and wider rail investment, which benefits passengers across the country. In recent years, rail operators have been investing in more trains, better stations and faster journeys.
In September 2022, the Government announced that it would provide up to £60 million from the beginning of January until the end of March 2023 to enable bus operators cap single adult fares at £2 per journey. A further £75 million investment has now extended this until 30 June.
Over 140 bus operators outside of London now charge no more than £2 for their single tickets across over 5,000 routes. It is my understanding that more than 3 million passengers have already taken advantage of cheaper bus fares since January.
The scheme, which forms part of the Government's wider Help for Households initiative, is designed to help passengers with travel costs for work, education, shopping and medical treatments over the winter months while they are facing pressures from the rising cost of living. This significant investment will result in millions of people across England saving on travel costs.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.
With best wishes.
Jonathan Lord MP
Member of Parliament for Woking