Using public transport within the UK comes with many advantages; including being cheaper than owning and operating a car, reducing congestion in towns, removing the stresses commonly associated with driving and also reducing our carbon footprint.
In most cities across the country, public transport is readily available and easily accessible. But for regular users, what are the best ways to keep costs down to ensure you’re getting journeys for the best possible price, especially during a cost-of-living crisis? Here, we talk you through the best ways to save on public transportation tickets and passes.
How to Save Money on Buses
Buses provide a budget-friendly option when it comes to travelling, whether your reason for travel is for work, visiting friends and family or going to the shops. It’s one of the most popular public transport options in the UK, with 3.09 billion recorded passenger journeys taking place in the year ending June 2022 (as highlighted on www.gov.uk). It’s worth noting that these figures are lower than pre-Covid levels, but that the number of passengers continues to rise each quarter.
One of the best ways to save when using buses is to consider a weekly, monthly or yearly season pass. There are several different bus operators and they will all charge varying rates, but more often than not purchasing a pass will save you money - especially if you travel on the bus regularly. For example, First Bus (which operates services in two-thirds of the UK’s largest urban areas) provide an Unlimited (Direct Debit) ticket, which renews every month and provides travellers with unlimited journeys throughout their chosen area. In some cases, passengers could save up to £60.00 per year with this option, when compared to buying a new ticket every month.
It’s also worth checking whether your personal situation could entitle you to a discounted ticket. Most operators will offer price concessions for young people, people with disabilities, students and family groups. For those of State Pension age (66 or over in most of England), you’ll qualify for a pensioners bus pass and this can be applied for at GOV.UK. In Wales, the qualifying age is 60 and it’s the same in London, where anyone aged 60 and over can travel free on buses, tubes and other transport.
Did you know, that there is a current cap on bus ticket prices across the UK? A large number of bus companies are taking part in this initiative, which is designed to get more passengers on board. The cap stands at £2.00 per journey, although this is set to rise to £2.50 from 1st November 2023. Whilst not a direct way to save, this is handy to know for all passengers who might be undecided about bus travel.
How to Save Money on Coach Travel
If you’re planning to travel slightly further afield (and perhaps on a route that isn’t covered by your local bus operator), it might be worth considering booking a coach ticket instead. Typically a lot cheaper than travelling by train, there is a healthy coach network in the UK that covers most major towns and cities. National Express, Megabus, Evan Evans and FlixBus are a few examples of well-known providers that offer budget-friendly ticketing options to destinations across the country.
When taking longer journeys into consideration, and to highlight the savings when compared to train travel in this regard, we’ve looked at the cost of a single journey from Bristol to London in August 2023 via Trainline. At the time of writing, a single train ticket (standard class and without a Railcard) costs £35.00. In comparison, a single coach ticket via National Express costs just £3.50! That’s a whopping saving of £31.50 per ticket. Travelling by coach does, typically, take longer, but for a saving of that much, it might just be worth it. Senior discounts are available on National Express journeys, too, whilst travel is free for infants under the age of three.
How to Save Money on Train Travel
We’ve put together an in-depth article on how to get cheaper train tickets. Here, we talk you through how season tickets could save you money, the art to split ticketing and also the importance of booking in advance or, even, late.
We’ve also got a guide to Railcards and how much they could really save you. Railcards provide discounts on train travel across the UK for a large number of people, and are more often than not worth the upfront cost for the savings that you could make in the long run. If you’re after a Railcard and fancy some additional savings, then why not check out our dedicated Railcard discount codes page? Here, you’ll find a range of offers and promotions to help you secure your next journey for less.
As a former sports journalist and content creator, I swapped the press box for a permanent desk several years ago. Since giving match reports the red card, I have enjoyed developing my writing and research skills in a few other areas, and now I spend my time doing something I really enjoy - sharing the best ways to save on travel with our wonderful readers.
I love nothing more than exploring different parts of the world and learning about new cultures (and taking in the occasional sporting fixture, if at all possible). I’m just as happy on a quick city break in Lisbon as I am navigating my way across the width of America, and firmly believe everyone should have the opportunity to enjoy travelling regardless of their budget.