Buses get new £155m 'short-term fix'


Ministers have announced a further short-term funding package worth £80m to protect bus services, alongside a three-month extension of the £2 maximum fare promotion, at a cost of a further £75m.

Both packages apply to England and will run from 1 April until the end of June.

The Department for Transport (DfT) said that with bus patronage still at around 85 to 90% of pre-COVID levels, ‘there are a number of ongoing challenges for bus operators’ adding that the Government is working closely with the sector on the challenges they face and will continue to work on delivering the National Bus Strategy.

Transport secretary Mark Harper said: ‘Travelling by bus remains the most popular option for commuters and families across the country, but the sector is still trying to recover after the end of the pandemic.

‘We’re providing £155m to help passengers save money on fares, get more people on the bus and protect vital bus routes – helping with the cost of living and enabling people to get where they need to in an affordable and convenient way.’

Officials said the existing £2 cap on single bus fares has already shown early signs of increased bus use, with 7% of people in a survey of 1,000 people from watchdog Transport Focus showing saying they are using the bus more.

The DfT said the Government has provided financial support totalling more than £2bn since March 2020, but also said it had provided ‘investment’ of £3bn in bus services by 2025, including over £1bn to improve fares, services and infrastructure.

In fact the £2bn in subsidies provided since 2020 has consumed two-thirds of the promised £3bn ‘investment’ under the National Bus Strategy.

Graham Vidler, CEO of the Confederation of Passenger Transport, welcomed the extension of the Bus Recovery Grant, but added: ‘It is now critical all parties use this three-month extension to move away from short-term funding fixes and instead, build a sustainable settlement to unlock the economic, net zero and social wellbeing potential of buses.

‘The Government’s continuation of the £2 fare cap is also a good move to help make buses more attractive during a cost of living crisis and we will work with our members to understand how they can maintain this initiative.’

The DfT said the bus operators that are continuing the £2 fare cap will be confirmed in due course.

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