The £2 cap on single bus fares in Gloucestershire could be extended indefinitely, thanks to a motion put to the County Council by Green Party councillors.
The cap, introduced on January 1 to help residents with the cost of living, was originally meant to end on March 31 but was recently extended to the end of June.
But the Green group argued that the Council should ask the Department for Transport to continue it indefinitely. Their motion was unanimously supported by councillors of all parties at the full council meeting on March 22.
The decision on whether to agree to the request for extension will be made by central government.
Proposing the motion, Green Group leader Cllr Cate Cody (Tewkesbury) said bus travel reduces traffic congestion and pollution, takes away worries about where to park and is cheaper than running a car (a 40-mile round trip in a car costs about £10, compared with the equivalent trip by bus for £4).
The £2 fare cap had already encouraged more people to start using buses, she said, urging other councillors to join her in using buses to get to council meetings. “By using the bus this morning I have saved our County tax payers money (it’s more cost effective than when we use private cars), and it also values and contributes to public transport services.
“We owe it to the next generation; sustainable transport is really important to young voters.
“We need immediate, radical improvement in active travel and public transport systems. Here’s a scheme that could significantly help us reduce our carbon emissions. What’s not to love?”
The motion was seconded by Cllr Beki Hoyland (Blakeney and Bream), who told the council meeting that buses significantly increased the number of people that could be carried on roads, while reducing carbon emissions per passenger mile by an average of 88%.
But she emphasised that a good bus service was needed, to encourage people to use this form of transport. “The government has to make sure there are buses to be caught before asking people to use them. And we need to increase the variety of public transport, including community transport and on-demand services like the Robin.
“But we cannot do it without our government supporting the infrastructure and the market; to change from a society designed and built round the car to one where owning your own private car is rarely needed.”
Other countries’ governments, she said, subsidise public transport to make it a viable alternative. In Germany, for example, unlimited travel on all local public transport costs just 49 Euros a month.
In Gloucestershire a month’s season ticket is £86 – or passengers can pay £80 a month for a daily commute under the current fare cap, which offers flexibility without a surcharge for using the bus less frequently.
She compared this with the average cost of running a car in the UK, which is about £300 a month.