Public transport in Cornwall has received a significant boost with the Chancellor’s promise of a £23.5m funding package over the next 4 years for a “Reduced Bus Fares” pilot to support the Councils ongoing commitment to improving bus and rail for its residents.
Cornwall Council cabinet portfolio holder for transport Geoff Brown said: “One of the issues for our residents is the cost of using buses to get around. So we put forward a case to the Department for Transport to help us encourage people to use the buses by reducing bus fares.
If more people use the buses, then the plan is that over the four years of the pilot project, the lower cost of fares becomes financially sustainable. More journeys by bus means more fares being paid which means keeping fares down.”
“We know that good public transport is important to our residents to connect communities for work, education and socialising. Promoting and providing affordable public transport is also important in tackling climate change and getting cars off the road. That’s why improving public transport in Cornwall is a priority for this Council. We’ve already seen public transport passenger numbers in the south west growing faster than anywhere else in the UK. Last year, 19.2 million journeys were made on public transport in Cornwall.”
Due to begin in May 2020, Cornwall is the first rural area to be given the opportunity to run and fund a pilot scheme like this one to bring down the cost of travelling by bus.
Sarah Newton MP for Truro and Falmouth who supported the bid to the Department for Transport said: “This investment will help existing bus service users and will enable more people to afford to access education, employment and social activities. It encourages more people to switch to public transport. We have new, low emission buses and with this government subsidy lower fares, so I hope many more people will use them. Switching from cars saves money, helps tackle climate change, and improves the air quality of our natural environment.”
Cornwall Council signed a Devolution Deal with Government in 2015 to deliver a cost-effective customer focussed integrated public transport system. The resulting One Public Transport System for Cornwall project is delivering upon its objectives to improve public transport.
It has seen the introduction of new buses, improved roadside shelters, bus and rail station infrastructure and digital timetable information. We’re also the first rural authority to introduce contactless payments on buses.
Encouraging more residents to use public transport rather than using the car supports the Council’s determination to tackle the Climate Change Emergency by helping to reduce emission levels.
Geoff adds: “There are more people using buses but we want to encourage even more. One of the barriers is high bus fares, particularly for short journeys. You need only look at the significant increase in travel since the Concessionary Bus Pass Scheme was introduced to see that people will use public transport if the price is right. The Truro Park and Ride is another example where offering a high quality service with good value for money fares can attract people to public transport. Last year we had 1.2m passenger journeys on the Park and Ride, taking 1500 cars per day from the city’s roads.”
The pilot will run for 4 years from May 2020.