Transport Focus recently welcomed the extension of the Government’s £2 bus fare cap to the end of June 2023. A much needed move to save passengers money during the cost of living crisis and a great incentive to attract people back to using the bus or trying it out for the first time. 

Last week we published our updated research on awareness of the £2 fare cap, speaking to more than 1000 people and while awareness of the deal is good, our new work revealed that 32 per cent of those we spoke to were still not aware of it, highlighting that work is still needed to spread the message for prospective new passengers. We have been able to track awareness since our first wave of research in January and have added additional questions to this latest wave of research.  

Having two thirds of our respondents knowing about what is available is clearly a good start. Yet this research shows that there is still a huge prize for bus companies, transport authorities and everyone connected with the bus industry with the potential to attract many more people to use their bus services.  

Our research goes on to show that 19 per cent of those we spoke to never use buses but might consider using them. Just over a quarter of those we spoke to use buses once or twice per year and 13 per cent are using buses every few months, showing that there are new and lapsed passengers that can be attracted to using buses with the £2 fare cap incentive.  

But how can the £2 fare cap be better advertised? As always, Transport Focus is out travelling on different parts of the transport network, identifying improvements for users and reporting back what they find. One thing we’ve noticed is a mixed picture of where and how the £2 fare cap is being promoted. For example, some operator websites are better than others, with the £2 fare cap clearly advertised. Others less so. However, we know that many people who do not use the bus won’t necessarily go to these websites anyway. So, what else can be done?  

One of the best advertising mediums is the bus itself. On the move, at bus stops and stations, the bus is an ideal mobile advertising space and an obvious opportunity to tell new users about the current £2 fare offer. For commuters stuck in traffic or for pedestrians walking down the high street, having a bus advertising the £2 fare on the front, side or back of the bus is a really good way to spread the word. But please do not obscure the view from the window for passengers! 

Modern buses are a great option for people to travel on. Premium, comfortable seating, Wi-Fi, tables to work at and USB phone charging points are becoming standard on many bus services across the country. Improvements to the space available for wheelchairs and child buggies have improved access for those that need it. New and returning users to bus will find many updates and improvements that will make their journeys comfortable, productive and enjoyable. 

The £2 fare cap is a much-needed incentive for passengers and will make bus travel more attractive to many people. However, bus operators and transport authorities need to do more to push what buses have to offer.  

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