Winners and losers: Tyne Tunnel price hike as £2 bus fare cap extended and under-21s Metro cost cut

Price changes across rail, bus and the roads are coming into effect Credit: PA

A range of price changes are proposed for public transport in the North East.

Several announcements have been made to extend, increase or decrease travel costs across various networks.

In February 2023, the Transport Secretary announced that the £2 cap on bus fares will be extended until the end of June.

Arriva, Go Northeast and Stagecoach are among the companies signed up to the voluntary bus fare cap scheme although the cheaper fares are not available on all routes.

During the pandemic, footfall fell on public transport so the government introduced reduced fares to encourage more people back on the bus by saving passengers money.

The funding from the Department for Transport has cost more than £2 billion since March 2020.

Several companies signed up to the voluntary bus fare cap scheme. Credit: PA Images

Nexus has unveiled a “simplified” pricing structure for under-21s if using a Pop smartcard.

North East Joint Transport Committee will meet on Thursday 6 April to decide if the price reductions will be introduced from 7 May.

If approved, a single journey will cost only £1 with unlimited daily travel around the network costing £2.20.

North East Joint Transport Committee will decide if price cuts for under-21s using Popcards on the Metro will be introduced from 7 May. Credit: Nexus

Meanwhile, a price hike was imposed on some adult tickets.

Adult passengers using the Pop Pay-As-You-Go card have had their prices frozen for a second year running, but the cost of paper single and daysaver tickets has gone up.

Weekly adult season tickets will increase by 2-3% but monthly and annual season tickets will increase by 11% in line with RPI inflation.

The price hikes help meet the Metro’s increased running costs as high inflation continues to challenge the network alongside higher energy bills.

The Tyne Tunnel toll will increase from £1.90 to £2.20 for Class 2 (car, van or bus less than 3.5 tonnes) and £3.90 to £4.40 for Class 3 (LGV, Van or Bus over 3.5 tonnes) from May 2023.

In November 2022, members of the North East Joint Transport Committee's Tyne and Wear sub-committee were told that the toll needed to increase at a higher rate than usual because of escalating levels of inflation and to pay back debts incurred in building the second tunnel.

It came a year after the removal of the crossing's old toll booths and the start of a cashless payment system that requires motorists to pay either online, with a pre-paid account, over the phone, or in shops with PayPoint counters.

Drivers must still use the new 'cashless' system on the Tyne Tunnel. Credit: ITV Tyne Tees
  • Rail

On 5 March 2023 it was announced that regulated rail fares will rise on average by 5.9%.  Network Rail said not all fares would increase though, in order to meet demand and provide an average. 

Days later, northern leaders and transport bosses came together at the annual summit of Transport for the North in Newcastle, where it was claimed that an incoming £4 billion devolution deal could see routes upgraded and ticket prices cut.

It was also confirmed that passenger rail services will return to the disused line between Ashington and Newcastle next summer, rather than as planned at the end of this year.

Anger has been mounting over the state of the region's rail and bus networks following an extended period of delays and cancellations and strikes.

Speaking at the conference, North of Tyne mayor Jamie Driscoll said the North East's rail connections were worse today than they were in the 1850s and said a "transport revolution" was needed to get people out of cars and back onto public transport.

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