Bristol bus fares could be capped as part of major London-style revamp

double decker bus in Bristol
Bus fares in Bristol could be capped as part of a major revamp of the city's public transport. Credit: ITV News

A major revamp of bus services across Bristol could see daily and weekly fares capped, it has been revealed.

Talks have begun between local authorities and bus companies to make huge improvements.

The changes will come into force via contactless tap-on, tap-off payments allowing passengers to hop across different operators.

This will eventually include trains, similar to Transport for London (TfL), new local low-fare zones and cheaper point-to-point journeys.

One common transport brand will be created for the West of England, with the same logo emblazoned across all single and double-deckers.

Currently, most buses accept contactless cards, but tickets are only valid with the same firm, while ‘tap and cap’ is available only on First buses for daily and weekly tickets in flat-fare zones.

The West of England Combined Authority and North Somerset Council submitted the planned improvements to the Government at the end of October.

First Bus welcomed the plan’s “level of ambition” and says it is committed to rolling out tap-on, tap-off capping across the region next year and more flexible tickets to ensure faster, reliable buses.

Negotiations are underway and are expected to be completed by the end of March next year before undergoing public consultation and coming into force 70 days later on June 10.

Under the proposed plans under-11s will ride for free, with youngsters aged 11 to 18 getting half-price discounts across all operators. Credit: LDRS

Up to 1,000 contactless bank-card readers, compatible with Apple Pay and Google Pay, will be installed on vehicles, allowing customers to tap on entry and exit without needing tickets or stopping to pay the driver.

Adult tickets and price-capping involving single operators will come first, followed by multi-company and discounted fares.

Under-11s will ride for free, with youngsters aged 11 to 18 getting half-price discounts across all operators.

West of England metro mayor Dan Norris said: “This is an exciting plan to make bus travel simpler and cheaper for passengers.

“The idea is you can get on any bus, tap in with your debit card and out again when you reach your destination. You can do this on as many journeys as you want, in one day, but you will only be charged one set daily price.

"I want to make it as easy as possible for people to do the right thing so they can greatly reduce car journeys and use public transport, walk, cycle  and wheel so we can reach our very ambitious net-zero 2030 target and deal with congestion, pollution, and obesity.”

The plan says buses spend 25 to 30 per cent of their time at bus stops and that the proposals would halve this. Credit: West of England Combined Auhtority

First West of England managing director Doug Claringbold said: “First Bus is very supportive of the Government’s ambition, outlined in the National Bus Strategy, to improve bus services and increase the number of people travelling by bus across the country.

“We worked closely with Weca and North Somerset Council as they developed their recently published BSIP, which sets out their vision for how the Government’s ambitions can be realised in our area.

“We very much welcome the level of ambition it demonstrates.

“Our focus is on improving the experience for our customers, with a commitment to a zero emission fleet by 2035, the roll-out of tap-on, tap-off contactless capping across our network in 2022, a more flexible ticket offer that meets changing travel needs and ultimately, the operation of faster, more reliable services made possible by the delivery of the bus priority measures set out in the BSIP.”

Credit: Adam Postans, Local Democracy Reporting Service