Bus and light rail operators across England will benefit from over £150 million of government support, ensuring services continue to run and millions of passengers can continue to get around as the country emerges from the pandemic.
The funding package announced yesterday builds on almost two years’ worth of unprecedented government support to keep bus and light rail networks running, with around £2 billion made available to over 160 operators during the pandemic.
This represents the final tranche of pandemic-related support to operators and will run for 6 months until October 2022.
Not only will this new funding support operators and authorities as they adapt to changing travel patterns – it will also help the continued delivery of enhanced partnerships, with local authorities working closely with bus companies to draw on their operating knowledge and marketing skills.
Additionally, it will support local authorities and operators across England as they continue working on bus service improvement plans and delivering substantive improvements to local services.
This additional package will help millions of passengers get around as they return to the network.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “The funding I’ve announced today will ensure millions of us can continue to use vital public transport services and brings the total we’ve provided to the sector to keep services running throughout the pandemic to over £2 billion.
“Not only that – as we look ahead and continue our work to overhaul services and build back better from the pandemic, this funding will also help authorities and operators work together to provide even better services for people right across the country.”
The government is investing over £3 billion in bus services by 2025, including £1.2 billion to improve fares, services and infrastructure, and a further £525 million for zero emission buses.
Roads minister Baroness Vere said: “Millions of people rely on buses and trams to get them to work, school and the shops, which is why we have already provided billions of pounds of support for the sector throughout the pandemic.
“This latest funding builds on that support and will help keep services running as we emerge from COVID-19 and ensure networks meet passenger demand.”
Graham Vidler, Chief Executive of the Confederation of Passenger Transport (CPT), said: “This welcome funding will help operators have the certainty they need to run an extensive network of services over the coming months as we all adjust to life after the pandemic.
“In the longer term, the bus network will need to adapt to meet passengers’ new travel patterns. Over the coming months, operators will be working closely with local authorities to plan future bus networks and introduce plans to grow passenger numbers. To aid these local efforts we look forward to working with the government to loudly promote bus travel.”
This funding is dependent on local areas and operators co-designing a financially sustainable and passenger-focused public transport network, that works for changing travel patterns post-pandemic.
Responding to the funding package, Paul Tuohy, chief executive of Campaign for Better Transport, said:
“We are grateful the Government heeded our calls to continue supporting bus services until passenger numbers can begin to recover. This is good news for buses and the communities which rely on them and should help prevent the large-scale cuts to services we feared. We now want to see a government-led campaign to boost people’s confidence to leave their cars at home and get back on board public transport so that buses can start to fund themselves once again.”