England’s £2 cap on bus fares will be extended by three months, the Department for Transport (DfT) has announced.

The promotion – launched at the start of the year – was due to expire at the end of March but will now run until June 30.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said he wanted bus travel to be “affordable for all”.

READ AGAIN: Fares capped at £2 to make buses 'affordable to everyone'

The current deal runs until March 31 but operators were keen for a new agreement to be secured before the end of Friday as they are required to give six weeks’ notice about plans to cancel services or change routes.

The Confederation of Passenger Transport, which represents bus companies, warned earlier this week that up to 15% of England’s bus services could be lost if Government funding was axed.

DfT figures show “ridership” on buses in Britain outside London was 19% below pre-coronavirus levels.

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Luke Marion, Oxford Bus Company and Thames Travel managing director said: "The extension of the £2 fare capping scheme is excellent news for passengers and the bus industry.

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"Not only is it helping passengers continue to get out and about, it is also helping operators maintain services. We have experienced an increase in patronage via the scheme and I hope the offer continues to encourage more people to give bus travel a try.

“The financial support has had a positive short-term impact and I would encourage the government to introduce long-term funding reform to help the bus industry plan with greater clarity and confidence and to maintain and develop good quality, reliable bus services."

It is hoped the extension of the fares cap will boost passenger numbers, and help people travelling for education, work and medical appointments amid the cost-of-living crisis.

More than 130 operators outside London are charging no more than £2 for a single ticket.

Single fares for a three-mile journey outside London normally cost an average of about £2.80 but tickets can exceed £5 for long journeys in rural areas, according to the DfT.

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Up to £80m of Government funding will be used to protect services, while the extension of the fares cap is backed by up to £75m. 

Mr Sunak said: “I want to make bus travel affordable for all, that’s why we’re continuing to cap fares at £2 and protecting local routes, ensuring we have a modern and efficient network that’s accessible for everyone.

Bicester Advertiser:

“Getting more people onto reliable and affordable buses will strengthen communities and help grow the economy, connecting people to jobs, driving pensioners to see friends and family, and helping people attend medical appointments or access education."

Transport Secretary Mark Harper said: "Travelling by bus remains the most popular option for commuters and families across the country, but the sector is still trying to recover after the end of the pandemic."

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This story was written by Andy Ffrench, he joined the team more than 20 years ago and now covers community news across Oxfordshire.

Get in touch with him by emailing: Andy.ffrench@newsquest.co.uk

Follow him on Twitter @OxMailAndyF