THE number of miles covered by bus services in Warrington has halved over the last decade, new figures show.

But the town’s bus operators say passenger numbers are on the up, as they work to improve bus services across the board.

The new figures come as bus services across England have been cut severely over the same time period.

Department for Transport figures show bus companies in Warrington provided 2.2million miles of services in the year to March – down from 2.5million the year before.

In 2012-13, 4. million miles were provided, meaning bus coverage has been cut by 52 per cent over the last decade.

Nationally, the total length of bus routes has fallen by 21 per cent, from 1.3billion miles in 2012-13 to a billion last year.

The figures also show people across the country are returning to buses, but fewer journeys are being taken than before the coronavirus pandemic.

Some 3.4billion journeys were completed last year – up from 2.8billion the year before, but below the 4billion taken in the year to March 2020.

Meanwhile, residents in Warrington took 4.3million bus journeys in the year to March – up from 3.5million the year before.

However, this remained below pre-pandemic levels, when 5.5million journeys were taken.

When asked about the statistics, Warrington Borough Council highlighted that the data applies to all bus operators in Warrington, not just Warrington’s Own Buses.

It also commented that all bus operators have found that concessionary passengers have dropped significantly since the pandemic, and this represents the significant drop in the number of concessionary passengers compared to the period pre-pandemic.

A council spokesman said: “The drop in numbers of bus services and bus passengers in Warrington historically was replicated in many other parts of the country, due to significant funding cuts applied to all councils.

“However, for several years we have been working closely with all our local bus operators to improve services and encourage people back onto the buses, using £16million in Bus Service Improvement Plan funding.

“Through our partnership with local bus operators, bus passengers in Warrington now have reduced fares, free concessionary pass travel at any time of the day and new routes and extended timetables.

“We are also making wider improvements to the entire bus network, including the installation of new bus shelters and the introduction of new bus priority measures such as the A49 Winwick Road scheme.

“In 2024, Warrington’s Own Buses’ entire fleet of diesel buses will also be replaced with state-of-the-art zero emission electric buses, which will provide passengers with clean, near-silent, comfortable and efficient journeys.

“The outlook for buses in Warrington is very positive and bus passenger figures are continuing to increase, as a result of close partnership working between the council and all bus operators.”

Ben Wakerley, managing director of Warrington’s Own Buses, added: “We work hard to ensure that bus services meet the level of demand from our passengers, while also ensuring the business continues to be financially stable.

“Unfortunately, bus companies across the country have seen a reduction in concessionary pass holders since the Covid pandemic, and so we have been working with the community to encourage older people back on board.

“Other bus passengers have grown over recent years to above figures pre-Covid, with a 13 per cent increase in passengers from summer 2023 compared to the same period last year.

“This increase in passengers is a result of fare reductions, new services and extended timetables, and the introduction of our new electric bus fleet next year will also bring even more customers onto the buses.”