Residents across Kent will benefit from more reliable, punctual and cheaper bus services thanks to more than £16 million of new government funding to improve local transport connections and grow the economy.
The Department for Transport has today (21 June 2023) confirmed that Kent County Council will receive £16.1 million for its bus service improvement plan (BSIP) to improve local bus services, speed up bus journey times and deliver lower fares to help passengers save money on travel.
The move follows the initial government investment of £19 million, bringing total funding to boost Kent’s bus services to over £35 million since 2022.
It also comes ahead of the “Big Free Bus Weekend” on 24 and 25 June when all bus travel across Kent will be completely free for all to enjoy thanks to the government funding delivered so far.
The £16.1 million can be used to introduce lower fares, improve bus punctuality and reduce journey times.
With better transport connections crucial to growing the economy, improvements to local bus services will help local residents save money and travel to work, go shopping, access medical appointments and see loved ones more easily.
Roads Minister Richard Holden said: “Many people across Kent rely on the bus to get to work and go shopping, attend medical appointments and see friends and family.
“That is why today we’re confirming over £16 million on top of our previous £19 million investment to boost Kent’s bus services and help build the modern, reliable and affordable bus network all residents in Kent deserve.
“We’ve now invested more than £3.5 billion since 2020 to protect bus routes in England and help people ‘Get Around for £2’ as we leave no stone unturned to level up transport, help people save money on travel and grow the economy.”
The funding follows a recent investment of £200 million to help people save money on travel by extending the £2 bus fare cap until 31 October 2023, which will continue at £2.50 for another year until November 2024. A further £300 million is also being provided to bus operators and local authorities to protect crucial bus routes into 2025 and provide long-term stability to the bus industry.
This builds on over three years’ worth of government support, totalling over £2 billion, to help the sector recover from the pandemic, and more than £1 billion to support other local authorities like Kent County Council deliver their long-term local plans to improve services. This takes total government investment to support and improve bus services to £3.5 billion since 2020.
Kent County Council’s Cabinet Member for Highways and Transport, David Brazier, said: “Better access to local transport helps our communities across Kent to thrive. The additional money from the Department for Transport’s bus service improvement plan will make it easier, cheaper and more reliable to get around, thereby boosting our local economy.
“This gives us an opportunity to develop our relationships with operator firms across the county to ensure people can make easy and sustainable choices when they want to move around Kent, whether that be to learn, work or play.”
On top of the government support to improve local bus services in Kent, DfT has previously provided £9.5 million for 32 brand new electric buses and charging infrastructure from the Zero Emission Bus Regional Areas (ZEBRA) scheme to help decarbonise the local Kent bus fleet. The electric buses will be used on Kent’s Fastrack Bus Rapid Transit system.