Thousands of single bus journeys in England have been capped at £2 until the end of March, in a step set to save passengers £13 per journey for the most expensive routes.
If you use the bus to commute to work, visit friends and family, or for shopping and leisure, this scheme – called ‘Get Around for £2’ – could be a good way to save money during the cost of living crisis.
Here, Which? explains how the scheme will work, and suggests other ways to save money on transport this year.
How does the ‘Get Around for £2’ scheme work?
First announced in September 2022, single fares for participating bus journeys are being capped at £2 until 31 March 2023. However, return fares will remain at their usual price. In some cases it may be cheaper to get two single fares rather than a return.
You don’t need to do anything to get the reduced £2 price, as it will be applied automatically when you take a journey.
There are more than 4,600 bus routes that will be capped, with 130 participating operators, including Arriva and Stagecoach.
Are there any restrictions?
The scheme only applies to journeys in England – so bus journeys in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland do not come under this scheme.
Not all bus operators in England are taking part, and some operators have excluded specific routes. The government has set out more details about bus routes not included in the fare cap on its website.
The fare cap does not apply to bus services in London, as these have their own set of caps.
How much can you save?
The amount you save will depend on how expensive your regular bus route is, and how often you take the bus.
The government estimates the average person will save almost 30% of their usual fare, but customers on some routes can save as much as 87%.
Here are some of the biggest savings on the longest routes in the country, according to the DfT:
How to save on transport in 2023
Although the cost of bus fares will be going down, it’s a different case for train fares. Here are some of the ways you can save money this year.
Beat the rail fares increase
Regulated train fares in England will be going up by 5.9% on 5 March. This includes season tickets on most commuter journeys, some off-peak return tickets on long-distance journeys and anytime tickets around major cities. However, if you usually purchase an annual season ticket, buying it before this date means you’ll get to travel for the next year at the cheaper existing price.
For those in Wales, fares are regulated by the Welsh government and usually follow the changes made in England – although rail fare rises haven’t been announced at the time of writing.
Peak fares in across Scotland’s railways are due to be scrapped for a six-month pilot, a step that was announced in the draft Scottish budget in December 2022. Full details of this project are yet to be announced.
To save money on rail travel across the UK, it’s usually worth buying a railcard. They cost no more than £30 a year, and essentially pay for themselves with the money you can save off a few train journeys. There are nine railcards available with discounts varying from a third to 50% off.
There are a lot of other hacks on our guide to getting cheap train tickets, including splitting your ticket and setting alerts for when advanced tickets go on sale.
Make sure you also remember to claim money back for any delayed journeys – you’ll be eligible for some cash if your train has been cancelled or delayed by 15 minutes or more.
Consider a coach
It may be cheaper to get a coach to your destination instead of a train, especially if you’re not in a rush.
For example, popular routes like London to Manchester can cost as little as £6.88 with Megabus – but the journey will take five hours, compared to just two hours on the train.
There are additional student discounts available – for example, students can save an extra 10% at Megabus with a Totum card.
Alternatively, you may be eligible for a Coachcard with National Express. This works in a similar way to a Railcard; you can save a third on fares and there are three options available: Young Persons Coachcard, Senior Coachcard and Disabled Coachcard.
Shop around for fuel
If you have a long car journey coming up, your best bet is to search for the cheapest pump you can find before you fill-up.
A recent analysis by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) published in December 2022 found fuel prices varied widely between local areas, with higher prices at petrol stations more common where there are few competitors nearby, and where there is no local supermarket.
We found that fuel at supermarket pumps is typically cheaper by a few pence per litre than it is at other garages.
It can be worth checking comparison site Confused.com, which compares prices at forecourts, and can be used to find cheaper options near you.
You could also try car sharing with work colleagues or friends where you can, and splitting the fuel costs between you.
There are also several apps that can help match you with a car-sharing buddy, including Liftshare and BlaBlaCar – just remember to take precautions, such as checking a potential car-sharer’s ratings, before you get in a car with them.
- Find out more: how to save money on fuel
Cycle to work
Cycling won’t be an option for everyone, but if you’d like to try it and you don’t own a bike, you could take a look at second-hand deals.
You can also save money on the cost of a new bike with the Cycle to Work scheme, if your employer is signed up to it.
You start by choosing the bike you want. The bike is bought by your employer, who then leases it to you. Many employers can reclaim the VAT and have the option of passing this saving on to you.
Your salary will be reduced by the net cost of the bike for the hire period, spreading the cost across several months. Once the hire period ends, you can buy the bike from your employer at a ‘fair market value’ set by HMRC.
- Find out more: salary sacrifice schemes explained