Thirty-one counties, city regions and unitary authorities have been chosen for funding to level up their local bus services in the latest awards from the government’s bus transformation programme. Including earlier awards, just under two-thirds of England’s population outside London will benefit from new investment to make their buses more frequent, more reliable, easier to understand and use, cheaper, or greener. Improvements will also include integrated ticketing and more bus lanes to speed up journeys.
The successful areas have been chosen because of their ambition to repeat the success achieved in London – which drove up bus usage and made the bus a natural choice for everyone, not just those without cars.
As the government stated in last year’s national bus strategy, Bus Back Better, areas not showing sufficient ambition, including for improvements to bus priority, would not be funded. In the meantime, a further £150 million is being provided across England to maintain service levels as patronage continues to recover after the pandemic.
Mayoral combined authorities will also receive money for buses from the £5.7 billion City Region Sustainable Transport Settlements (CRSTS), which are also confirmed. 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%. Passes for unlimited bus travel across Cornwall will cost just £5 per day (down from £9 now) or £20 per week. Town zones offer great value travel for just £2.50 per day or £10 for a week. For commuters travelling 5 days a week, that works out at just £2 a day or £1 per journey.
All tickets will be available on all operators’ services and in the summer contactless tap-on and tap-off payments will be introduced and buses will connect easily with the main rail line at stations across the county.
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. Today’s funding follows the announcement last week of £200 million for almost 1,000 new electric or hydrogen buses, bringing the total funding in England under this government to 2,000.
A further 600 green buses have been funded in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland from the block grant to the devolved administrations, putting the UK on target to meet its commitment of 4,000 zero-emission buses.
The government is today also confirming £5.7 billion in funding to level up local bus, tram, rail, walking and cycling networks in England’s 8 city regions.
The CRSTS, first announced in the autumn statement, give the mayors of our largest cities long-term certainty to plan and deliver transformational improvements to their local transport systems.
The money will help deliver, among other things, a new mass transit network in West Yorkshire, improvements to rail services in the Tees Valley, a flat fare on buses in Greater Manchester and bus rapid transit corridors in the West Midlands. Letters have been sent to the metro mayors outlining the funding.
The government has also confirmed that tram and light rail operators across the Midlands and the North will also benefit from over £37 million of government support including:
This money will be used to ensure light rail services continue to run and millions of passengers can continue to get around as the country emerges from the pandemic.
Source: Department for Transport