Bus funding will only help a ‘minority of places’, says transport charity

Responding to the Government announcement today (4 April) that 31 local authorities – 40 per cent of all authorities which submitted Bus Service Improvement Plans (BSIPs) – will benefit from a slice of the £1.2bn in funding to improve bus services in their areas, Paul Tuohy, Chief Executive of Campaign for Better Transport, said:

“Improving buses in a minority of places does not live up to the promise of a national bus strategy, though locally it will be very welcome. Rather than this fragmented, competitive way of funding local buses we want to see more of a focus on revenue funding to ensure every community gets the bus service it needs and deserves. With a large number of losers from today’s announcement, it’s important communities that have missed out are not left behind, and that those local authorities are given the funding and support through the long-awaited Bus Centre of Excellence to overcome barriers to being successful in the future.”

Today’s announcement means that the majority of local authorities that submitted bids were unsuccessful and will not receive funds to deliver bus service improvement plans, and even those that have received funding will not have received all the money they requested and will therefore have to cherry-pick which improvements they can deliver. Campaign for Better Transport is warning that, with an estimated £10 billion needed by local authorities to improve bus services, the money awarded today falls woefully short.

In addition, Campaign for Better Transport research published today found that 27 per cent of bus services (measured by vehicle miles) have been lost in the last ten years, with the pandemic having a huge impact causing an 18 per cent reduction in bus services in just two years (March 2019 to March 2021).

To truly revive and transform buses across the country, the transport charity is warning a much greater investment will be needed and is calling on the Government to tackle the buses crisis by:

Redirecting a fifth of its £27 billion road building budget into a single, long-term bus funding pot

  • Giving a greater focus on revenue funding
  • Giving local authorities that missed out today capability funding and support through the Bus Centre of Excellence.

Mr Tuohy added: “If Treasury were to redirect just a fifth of its £27 billion road building budget, it could help save local buses from disaster.”