Fares

Note: bus fares increased from 12 May 2024, see fare increases. This page has been re-written to reflect those changes.

For people who don’t use buses regularly, the fare structure can be confusing. How much a fare will be and what is the best way to pay for it may not be immediately clear. This page aims to help passengers through the confusion.

The first thing to say is that fares have become cheaper than they were a couple of years ago thanks, firstly to the Bus Fares Pilot negotiated between Cornwall Council and the bus operators and funded by a large subsidy of £23 million from central government and implemented in 2022; secondly, in 2023 the government funded the £2 maximum single fare, see further information below. There are also options for purchasing multi-journey tickets although, ironically, because of the £2 single fare cap, the benefits of multi-journey tickets have significantly reduced .

The other point is that all tickets can be used on any operator’s buses across Cornwall.

Tickets can be purchased in a number of ways:
From the driver by cash or by contactless card or smartphone
Using one of the bus operator’s apps - mobile tickets or m-tickets
Tap on and tap off (also known as tap and cap)
Note however that not all options for paying are available for all tickets. Details are below.

Adults or under 19
Adult fares are charged for persons 19 years and older. Under 19 fares are charged for persons up to and including 18 years of age. You may be asked for proof of age if requesting an under 19 fare.

Single or return
Single fares: you can purchase a single ticket from the driver using cash, contactless or by using tap and cap. See the page about tap and cap. As from 12 May 2024, the band 1 fare of £1.60 for short journeys and journeys within town zones has been abolished. As a consequence, the minimum adult fare is now £2.00 which is also the maximum because of the government funded £2.00 which applies until the end of 2024. What happens after that remains to be seen and will be in the gift of a new government.

For under 19s, the minimum fare for band 1 journeys was increased from £1.00 to £1.50 as from 12 May 2024. Beyond band 1 (approximately 3 miles) the under 19 single fare is £2.00, i.e. the same as an adult.

Return fares: you can purchase a return ticket from the driver using cash or contactless. It cannot be purchased by tap and cap or by smartphone app tickets. However, after 12 May 2024, there are only a few times when purchasing a return fare makes any sense. In band 1, the adult return fare is £3.50 versus two singles of £4.00. But for any journey in excess of about 3 miles, the return fare will be the same as, or even more than, two single fares. For under 19s, the return fares are £2.60 in band 1 or £3.50 in band 2. For longer journeys, the return fare is the same as, or more than, the price of two single fares.

See further details on the fares from 12 May.

Multi-journey tickets
As an alternative to paying for single or return tickets each time that you travel, there is now a selection of multi-journey tickets available. The prices quoted below are those that will apply as from 12 May 2024.

Cornwall All Day: this ticket enables the passenger to travel on an unlimited number of journeys with any operator(s) across Cornwall for one day. The price for an adult is £7, for under 19s, it is £4.50. The ticket can be purchased from the driver, or through a bus operator app. Adults can take advantage of this price using tap and cap (if an U19 uses tap and cap, they will be charged the adult fare - the system cannot differentiate between an adult or U19). See the page on tap and cap that explains how the maximum charge is applied to the journeys that you make.

Cornwall All Week: this ticket enables the passenger to travel on an unlimited number of journeys with any operator(s) across Cornwall for one week, i.e. 7 consecutive days. The price for an adult is £25, for under 19s, it is £15.00. The ticket can be purchased from the driver, or through a bus operator app. Adults can take advantage of this price using tap and cap (if an U19 uses tap and cap, they will be charged the adult fare - the system cannot differentiate between an adult or U19). See the page on tap and cap that explains how the maximum charge is applied.

Cornwall All Day and All Week family tickets: a family ticket entitles 2 adults plus an unlimited number of children to travel on one ticket across Cornwall for £15 for All Day or £50 for All Week. These tickets can be purchased from the driver or through a bus operator app.

Cornwall All Month: this ticket enables the passenger to travel for a whole month. The price for an adult is £90, for an U19, it is £50. These tickets can only be purchased through a bus operator’s app.

Cornwall 5-day bundle: this option is only available through a bus operator’s app. This costs £25 for an adult, £15.00 for U19. This differs from the All Week ticket in that the 5 days of travel can be taken at any time over a longer period. You purchase the bundle through the app and then, on the first day that you want to travel, you “activate” one ticket. This ticket is valid from the time of activation until 3 a.m. the following morning, at which point it expires. The next time that you wish to travel, you activate the next ticket in the bundle. It is important not to activate a ticket until you are sure that you are going to catch a bus that day, otherwise you will waste one of the tickets.

Town Zones
For passengers travelling within one town only, there are town zone prices. Although they are called town zones, they include villages in the vicinity of each town. The towns, and the areas around them, covered by this scheme are:
Bodmin including Bodmin community hospital, Dunmere, Carminnow Cross, Bodmin Parkway station
Bude including Stratton, Poughill, Flexbury, Kings Hill, Lynstone, Upton
Camborne including Tuckingmill, Tolvaddon, Pool, Pengeggon, Beacon, Troon, Baripper, Treswithian
Falmouth-Penryn including Budock Water, Swanpool, Mabe Burnthouse, Penryn campus, Flushing
Hayle including Connor Downs, Gwithian, St Erth station, Lelant
Helston including Porthleven, Culdrose, Trewednack, Wendron, Crowntown, Sithney
Launceston including Stourscombe, Dutson, St Stephen, Pennygillam
Liskeard including Liskeard hospital, Morrisons, Liskeard station, Trembraze, Gipsy Lane
Newquay including Quintrell Downs, St Columb Minor, Porth, Trevemper, Treloggan
Penzance including Newlyn, Mousehole, Heamoor, Madron, Gulval, Ludgvan, Long Rock, Crowlas, Marazion, Goldsithney, Roseudgeon, St Hilary
Redruth including Illogan, Lanner, Four Lanes
St Austell including Duporth, Charlestown, Penwithick, Trewoon, Sticker, Polgooth, London Apprentice
St Ives including Lelant, St Erth station, Halsetown, Carbis Bay
Truro including Tresillian, Playing Place, Carnon Downs, Chacewater, Threemilestone, Trispen, St Erme

Town All Day: this ticket enables the passenger to travel on an unlimited number of journeys within the town for one day for £3.50 for an adult, £2.20 for U19. The ticket can be purchased from the driver or through a bus operator app.

Town All Week: this ticket enables the passenger to travel on an unlimited number of journeys within the town for one week (7 consecutive days) for £14.00 for an adult, £8.80 for U19. The ticket can be purchased from the driver or through a bus operator app.

Town All Month: this covers travel for a month within the particular town zone, available from the bus operator app only for £56 for an adult, £33.00 for U19.

Town 5-day bundle: similar to the Cornwall 5-day bundle but covering just the particular town zone, £14.00 for an adult, £8.80 for U19.

Recommendations
For the very occasional adult passenger, taking a single journey, the simplest is to tap on and tap off for your one journey. You will be charged the single fare for the journey. See further information on tap and cap. For persons under 19 years, on short journeys, you should purchase your ticket from the driver, ticket prices start from £1.50; but for longer journeys you will pay the same as an adult and can use tap and cap if more convenient.

Prior to the introduction, then extension, of the £2 maximum single fare and then the increases in prices for the all Cornwall bundle ticket prices, for regular users of buses, the ticket bundle prices were great value versus paying for each journey individually. Now, however, for people living outside of town zones, the bundle ticket prices do not stack up unless you are sure that you will be making more than three journeys a day, or if you have a large number of children and purchase the family bundle tickets.

My recommendation, therefore, is that, if you do not live in a town zone, it is probably best for adults not to buy any of the ticket bundles. However, if you pay for your single fares using tap and cap, you will have the benefit of being charged just the £2 maximum single fare but, if you take more than three journeys on the same day, your total fare will still be capped at the all day maximum of £7. Return fares are only good value for money for shorter journeys outside of town zones. For longer journeys they are the same price as two singles; within town zones, the all-day zone ticket is the same price as a return.

For under 19s, it may be worth considering a 5 day bundle which costs £15, equal to £3 per day on the days that the tickets are used. However, many under-19s may have a Truro and Penwith College, or Callywith College pass making the purchase of these bundle options unnecessary.

If you are only going to travel within a town zone, an adult all-day ticket at £3.50 is the same as a return ticket within a town, and the 5-day bundle option is £14.00 for those 5 days, equal to £2.80 per day. 

For information about how to buy and how to use m-tickets, see Apps.

Concessionary passes
Finally, there are those passengers who have a concessionary pass. For them, all travel on buses wholly within Cornwall is free at all times (excludes Truro park and ride).

Park and ride
Truro park and ride is not included in the all Cornwall ticketing structure. Tickets for the service have to be purchased on the buses. The cost, as from 1 April 2024, is £2.40 for unlimited travel on the park and ride service for one day (this price applies all week, there is no longer a cheaper fare on Saturdays).

Multi-day ticket bundles can be purchased through the First Bus app. However, be aware of the expiry dates that apply on these bundles. For further information, see park and ride.