People are now able to travel in Grimsby on the bus for just a £1 at the weekend as the Christmas shopping period kicks off.
North East Lincolnshire Council and its partner Equans have announced a capped £1 bus fare across the borough all-day on weekends. It will also operate after 6pm, Monday to Friday.
The hope is by reducing fare costs in half, it will encourage increased leisure and shopping activity, and more sustainable travel. It comes after the government announced in late October £893,000 to invest in buses in North East Lincolnshire.
There has been since the beginning of the year a £2 government bus fare cap on journeys. This will remain in place for Monday to Friday before 6pm.
The new borough £1 cap at evenings and weekends will not last forever, however. It is for a limited time only, subject to uptake on bus tickets as well as funding. But it is aimed at encouraging people to travel more frequently during the Christmas period.
“By offering cheap bus travel, we can help business growth and regeneration in the borough by encouraging people to come out and shop locally,” said Cllr Stewart Swinburn, portfolio holder for environment and transport. “The Christmas period is a great time to help small businesses thrive and shows support to the local community as well.”
The Department for Transport (DfT) is funding the initiative under the Bus Service Improvement Plan Plus funding. This is additional to £4.7m already allocated to North East Lincolnshire Council for the improvement plan. Cutting the fares by half follows the Bus Service Improvement Plan (BSIP) survey carried out by the local authority last year. This highlighted passengers mostly use the buses for leisure and shopping.
“Christmas can be a difficult time financially for many people, and so we’re delighted to be able to provide a £1 single ticket as part of the BSIP funding in order to further help people with the cost of Christmas,” said Stagecoach East Midlands managing director Matt Cranwell.
Late last month, North East Lincolnshire was awarded £893,000 by the government towards bus services. This cash came as a result of the scrapping of the HS2 Birmingham to Manchester leg.
A North East Lincolnshire Council spokesperson said shortly after the announcement: “We’re currently working with the DfT to understand how the indicative funding allocation could be spent, and what we need to do to ensure that the people of North East Lincolnshire benefit from this.” North Lincolnshire was awarded almost £1m and overall, the whole county is getting £6m HS2 scrapped cash to invest in bus services.
Julia Thompson, chair of Visitor Economy Services Retail (VESR) in North East Lincolnshire, said of the new £1 bus cap: “Our shops, restaurants, bars and local businesses are all looking forward to a busy Christmas season. The cost of living this year has brought extra pressure for many families and so for those who can leave the car at home, it’s a great way to enjoy all that our town centres have available more affordably and rediscover the flexibility of travelling on the bus.”
While the length of the £1 fare scheme at evenings after 6pm and at weekends is time limited, the government recently announced its £2 bus fare cap will remain in place until December 2024.