£7bn announced for cheaper and better buses

The government has announced £7bn of funding for major local public transport schemes, with the aim of making journeys faster, greener, and more reliable.

31 counties, city regions and unitary authorities have been chosen for funding to improve their local bus services in the latest awards from the government’s bus transformation programme.

Improvements in the pilot area, Cornwall, will start next week, funded by £23.5 million from the government.

From 10 April, most bus fares in the county will be slashed, with short hop fares down by 20%, longer journeys costing up to 40% less and some bus passes cut by almost 50%.

Contactless tap-on and tap-off payments will also be introduced in the summer, connecting buses with the main rail line at stations across the country.

two yellow and red double-decker buses on gray concrete road

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: ‘Buses are the most popular way of getting around in this country – but for too long people outside of London have had a raw deal.

‘The investment we’re making today to ramp up the bus revolution will drive down fares at a time when people’s finances are tight and help connect communities across England.’

Areas among those receiving funding to improve bus services include Portsmouth, Greater Manchester, West Yorkshire and the Liverpool City Region.

Mayoral combined authorities will also receive money for buses from the £5.7bn City Region Sustainable Transport Settlements, which were also confirmed this week.

Tracy Brabin, Mayor of West Yorkshire, commented: ‘We are committed to making it easier for people to travel around the region, on foot, by bike and public transport, connecting people with job and training opportunities though accessible, attractive and cleaner transport.

‘The £830 million CRSTS programme, of which £339 million is funding from existing funding streams, will help us deliver a transformational programme of new infrastructure and is a further step towards building a transport network that the people of West Yorkshire deserve.’

However, she argued that the government’s ambition does not meet that of local authorities: ‘We took the Department for Transport’s call to “Bus Back Better” to mean that they would give us the tools and funding to deliver tangible benefits to passengers and encourage more people to use the bus. However, despite the Prime Minister’s recent claim in the House of Commons that there has never been “such a bonanza for buses”, the Government’s ambition does not yet match ours.

‘The level of funding provided for buses means we will have to make some tough decisions and it will take us longer to deliver the benefits of a fully-inclusive bus service that our plan offers.’

The announcement follows the government’s commitment of £200m for almost 1,000 new electric or hydrogen buses last week.

Photo by Yomex Owo


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