North East Transport leaders have welcomed the news that the Department for Transport has confirmed £117.8m in new funding for buses in North East England as part of the National Bus Strategy.
The latest move backs the formation of a formal partnership between bus operators and councils to deliver major improvements for bus passengers, set out in the North East Bus Service Improvement Plan.
Cllr Martin Gannon, Chair of the North East Joint Transport Committee, said: “This funding confirmation is excellent news for the North East as we continue to work in partnership with bus companies to make sustainable transport more affordable, attractive and easier to use. We will move quickly to launch a new flat £1 bus fare for young people under the age of 22, along with better multi-operator ticketing options for adults across the North East. This will greatly boost the opportunities for young people across all of the villages, towns and cities in our region, making it much more affordable to reach work and education by bus wherever you live in the North East.
“A wide range of other improvements for bus passengers will follow over the next two years including making buses faster, greener and easier to use. The funding will also help us to keep bus networks stable during turbulent financial times for the industry.
“Work towards our Enhanced Partnership has been moving at pace since we started this project in 2021, so I’m delighted we have reached this important milestone – it’s the start of exciting things to come for public transport in the North East and this money will allow us to push on with our plans while we await further announcement in relation to the third year of funding for our Bus Service Improvement Plan.”
Ben Maxfield, Chair of NEBus, the local operators association, said: “NEbus are delighted to see the confirmation of funding for the North East Bus Service Improvement Plan. We and the various operators are excited to continue working with Transport for North East to deliver enhancements to bus services across the region.”
An enhanced bus network is key to achieving the region’s aim of creating a green, healthy, dynamic and thriving North East. Buses are integral to achieving economic growth. This vision will help people make greener and healthier travel choices, creating a network that can take everyone where they need to go for work, education, healthcare, shopping or other leisure activities at a price they can afford.
This funding covers the first two years of the Bus Service Improvement Plan; a further announcement is expected in due course in relation to remaining £45.7m for the third year of funding.