To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what assessment has he made of (a) the cost of (i) rail travel and (ii) bus travel on people's transport choices, and (b) the effectiveness of fare levels with regard to attracting more passengers, in the context of rising costs of living.
Rail fares increases will be capped and tied to the Retail Price Index (RPI) figure for July 2021 (3.8 per cent). As in 2021, we have temporarily frozen fares for passengers to travel at the lower price for the entirety of January and February 2022 with fares changing on 1 March 2022, allowing passengers to renew their season ticket at a lower price. The Government has deliberately continued to use the July figure as it was lower than subsequent months. The December RPI figure (latest figure) is at 7.5 per cent.
We have recently introduced flexible season tickets on rail, which provide better value to most part-time commuters than buying daily tickets or traditional seasons. We have also saved a generation of passengers a third off their rail fares, including the 16-17 Saver and 26-30 Railcards and, most recently, the Veterans Railcard. These provide substantial discounts to rail passengers and encourage the use of rail travel.
The Department will also conduct a 12 month review of the flexible season tickets to evaluate their impact. We expect the review to report in the Summer of 2022.
With regards to buses, the National Bus Strategy sets out what we want to see on fares, including low flat fares (or maximum fares and daily price caps) to be the norm within cities and towns.