MP Ian Liddell-Grainger has called for the capped £2 bus fare to be permanently adopted, arguing it has the ability to transform mobility levels in rural areas.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak last week extended the scheme until the end of next year, but Mr Liddell-Grainger said it made ‘eminent sense’ to enshrine it in national public transport policy.

More than 5,000 bus routes in the country are currently capped under the initiative, which applies to single journeys at any time of day.

Capping was a Government initiative originally introduced for a three-month period between January and March this year as a way of easing cost of living pressures for families.

It has now been extended three times while plans to raise the cap to £2.50 have been shelved.

Mr Liddell-Grainger represents West Somerset and will be the Conservative candidate at the next General Election for the area around Wellington which falls into the new Tiverton and Minehead constituency.

He said there was clear evidence that capped ticket prices had made public transport a far more attractive option.

Mr Liddell-Grainger said: “It could hardly come at a better time, what with fuel prices remaining high while pressure grows on all sides for us to reduce carbon emissions from road transport.

“I know many of my constituents have been delighted at the opportunities the scheme has provided for them to make more use of public transport at a price they can easily afford.”

In Somerset, the unitary council is targeting communities along four at-risk bus routes, including Taunton via Wiveliscombe to Dulverton, and Taunton to Minehead, stressing the benefits of capped fares and the advantages of being able to save on fuel and parking bills by leaving cars at home.

Mr Liddell-Grainger said the scheme was proving particularly useful in rural areas.

“Families living in villages have to bear higher motoring costs than those in towns because they need to travel further for shopping and medical appointments, even to buy fuel,” he said.

“I would like to think that we can use the success of the capped fare as a springboard to start expanding the rural bus network, while always accepting that there is no point in adding new routes and then running empty buses along them.

“Public demand for buses has to be translated into public usage.”