THE number of bus journeys undertaken in Merseyside has fallen by a third over the last decade, new figures show.

The Government introduced a £2 cap on all bus journeys outside London last year to encourage more people to travel by bus.

Initially slated to end in March, the scheme has been extended by three months from April to June 30, while a further £80 million in funding has been provided to protect vital bus services during the same time period.

The Campaign for Better Transport said the added investment was "welcome", but urged the Government to implement long-term funding reform to encourage more people to take the bus.

Merseyside figures

Department for Transport figures show passengers took 72.3 million bus journeys in Merseyside in the year to March.

This was up from 40.8 million the year before – which was impacted by the coronavirus pandemic – but was down significantly on pre-pandemic levels.

In 2019-20, the last full year before the pandemic, Merseyside passengers took 100.3 million journeys, while over the last decade, services have been dropped by 34%.

Across England there were 2.8 billion bus journeys in 2021-22 – down from 4.1 billion in 2019-20.

A decade ago there were 4.6 billion journeys, and the number of trips has fallen every year since 2013-14 bar last year due to the pandemic.

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The Campaign for Better Transport said the extension of the £2 bus fare cap and funding for key services is "very welcome and a great success".

Paul Tuohy, chief executive of the campaign group, said: "This will reassure communities across the country who are reliant on buses to access work, education, and healthcare.

"However, another extension only gets us so far. We are urging the Government to implement long-term funding reform to avoid more uncertainty and give everyone access to affordable and reliable bus services."

The figures also show there were 50.8 journeys per person in Merseyside in 2021-22 – up from 28.4 and among the most in the country.

Meanwhile, elderly or disabled passengers accounted for 22.3 million (31%) journeys.

Comment from Confederation of Passenger Transport (CPT)

Andrew McGuinness, the Confederation of Passenger Transport’s Regional Manager for the North of England said: "While passenger numbers are around 10-15% lower than they were pre-pandemic due to a change in some people’s travel habits, customers have flocked back to the bus in Liverpool much faster than other parts of the UK. 

"However, to deliver more sustainable and desirable bus services, the industry is working hard to secure long-term funding from the Government to give the sector a more sustainable footing to protect existing services and market new ones.

"Locally too, operators are working in partnerships on their Bus Service Improvement Plan to implement a package of polices that include bus priority measures to improve journey times and low fares to make bus journeys even more attractive to passengers."