Bus fares reduced across the West in effort to boost passenger numbers

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Bus fares in Bristol are being reduced from Sunday 25th September 2022. Graphic: First West of England

Cheaper bus fares have come into force on most local services from today (Sunday 25th September 2022) thanks to the introduction of a subsidy package from the West of England Combined Authority (Weca).

The changes have seen the price of a First Bus adult single ticket from Bradley Stoke to Bristol city centre fall from £2.20 to £2, while the price of a First Bus return (using the 2-trip ticket) has been slashed to £3.50, down from £4.30 previously.

Metro mayor Dan Norris says the new fares scheme delivers on his pledge for simpler and cheaper bus fares. He hopes the reductions will “help a little towards easing the cost of living crises for locals, and will go a long way to addressing the big challenges on the buses at present”.

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Kitchen & Laundry Appliance Care, Bradley Stoke, Bristol.

The £2 single and £3.50 return fares apply throughout the Bristol zone, which extends as far as the Aztec West stops on its northern edge.

Children will pay £1 for a single and £1.80 for a 2-trip ticket, with these rates covering journeys over the whole West of England region, which covers Bristol, Bath, South Gloucestershire, Bath & North East Somerset and (outside of Weca) North Somerset.

However, other changes introduced today have seen the price of a Bristol zone First Day ticket, which allows unlimited trips, increase from £5.30 to £6. Furthermore, the 3-Stop Hop ticket (previously £1.30 for adults) has been withdrawn, as has the First Night ticket (previously £3.50 for adults).

West of England fares

Across the wider West of England region, single fares are frozen at £2.30 (up to 3 miles) and £3.30 (3-6 miles) while return fares have been reduced to £3.50 (up to 3 miles) and £4 (3-6 miles). All journeys over 6 miles now cost £3.70 single and £5 return.

The new fare structure has been introduced on “the vast majority” of West of England buses and will apply on all routes, regardless of operator, by the end of October.

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Metro mayor Dan Norris said:

“It’s time to get on board for new fares. I’m delighted to be able to introduce this package to immediately to offer a small helping hand to people facing a crippling cost-of-living crisis. At a time where the challenges on the buses are so huge, this is a real opportunity to create that virtuous cycle of more fare income to reinvest in our bus network which in turn will mean better buses for everyone. So my big message to local people is: please take advantage of this and take your children out for just £1. The more journeys you make, the more you will be helping us together to build the local bus system we both need and deserve. It’s also so very vital if we are going to meet our super-ambitious local 2030 net-zero targets.”

The scheme is a joint initiative from the West of England Combined Authority, North Somerset Council and the bus operators, including First Bus and Stagecoach West. It is being funded using some of the £105.5m Bus Service Improvement Plan grant awarded to the West of England by the government.

Photo of three adults and three children standing in front of a bus. The children are holding a giant £1 coin.
L-r: Metro mayor Dan Norris, Rachel Geliamassi (managing director, Stagecoach West) and Rob Pymm (commercial director, First West of England), with children from Holymead Primary School, Brislington.

Doug Clarinbold, managing director of First West of England, said:

“With rising living costs, we are delighted that the West of England Combined Authority and North Somerset Council have been able to provide operators in the region with financial support that enables significant reductions to these key West of England fares. Passenger numbers on our services are still significantly down on pre-pandemic levels and we are seeing some of our longer distance services that connect our towns and cities or serve more rural areas facing a particularly difficult time. Lower single, return and day ticket fares will help these services at a time when most things are going up in price. We hope this will encourage more people to use our services so that as we take action to increase driver numbers and improve the reliability of our services, we can accelerate the recovery in bus use across the region.”

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Rachel Geliamassi, managing director of Stagecoach West, said:

“Supportive measures to keep fares low can provide an attractive incentive to help attract new passengers on to the bus. It also builds on steps we have already been taking to give local people, including jobseekers, the best value travel we can. Investment by our West of England Combined Authority and North Somerset council partners in priority measures is also key to making buses more attractive, keeping them out of congestion, making journeys quicker and more reliable, and reducing operational costs that put pressure on fares. We look forward to working with mayor Norris and the combined authority to ensure this initiative supports the long-term sustainability of the region’s bus network, which is vital in connecting communities with jobs, education and skills, as well as friends, family, and essential public services.”

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Asked by the Journal whether the newly introduced fares scheme is time-limited, a Weca spokesperson said:

“The aim is to get more passengers on the buses to make the new fares viable in the long term. It will run at least until April 2023 and then we will review it. We will definitely continue to subsidise fares after that – but depending on how successful this scheme is, potentially with different fare packages.”

Full fare changes

Bristol zone

  • Bristol single fare – down from £2.20 to £2
  • Bristol return fare (2-trip ticket) – down from £4.30 to £3.50
  • Bristol Day – up from £5.30 to £6
  • Bristol Week – up from £21.50 to £23.50
  • Child fares – See ‘West of England wide’ fares below

West of England wide

  • West of England, child (age 5-15) single – from 50% (of adult fares) to £1
  • West of England, child (age 5-15) return (2-trip-ticket) – from 50 percent (of adult fares) to £1.80
  • West of England, 0-3 miles single – unchanged at £2.30
  • West of England, 0-3 miles return (2-trip-ticket) – down from £4.40 to £3.50
  • West of England, 3-6 miles single – unchanged at £3.30
  • West of England, 3-6 miles return (2-trip-ticket) – down from £6.30 to £4
  • West of England, 6-9 miles single – down from £4.50 to £3.70
  • West of England, 6-9 miles return (2-trip-ticket) – down from £6.50 to £5
  • West of England, 9-12 miles single – down from £5.50 to £3.70
  • West of England, 9-12 miles return (2-trip-ticket) – down from £7.50 to £5
  • West of England Day – down from £7.50 to £7

All the new fares can be found on the First West of England website at www.newbustickets.co.uk

See also: A simple guide to your tickets from 25th September 2022 (First Bus) [PDF; 8.0MB]

Bradley Stoke latest news.

Paying for your travel

The new, cheaper single and 2-trip fares are available on the First Bus app, through speedy contactless payment on the bus using First West of England’s Tap On, Tap Off (Toto) technology, or when buying a ticket from the driver.

Using Toto, passengers simply tap their credit/debit card or payment-enabled smartphone device against the reader when they get on the bus and again just before they get off. First Bus then works out the correct fare for each journey and ensures that customers never pay more than the relevant Day ticket fare each day they travel, no matter how many journeys they make.

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