Firms want clarity as DfT hands out £150m for buses


Bus operators have expressed frustration over the Government’s pledge to allocate nearly £1bn of redirected HS2 cash for bus improvements in the North and Midlands after ministers allocated just £150m of the promised cash.

The Department for Transport described the additional cash for councils in the North and Midlands as the first tranche of new funding under its Network North plan – with further allocations to be announced ‘in due course’.

The department somewhat undermined its claim that cancelling HS2 North of Manchester will a significant boost for transport when it added that the cash comes on top of ‘unprecedented investment’ of over £3.5bn for the bus sector since March 2020.

The new cash for the final year of the Parliament represents a fraction of the nearly £2bn of a promised £3bn to improve services that was diverted to subsidise bus operators during the pandemic.

The DfT published ‘indicative’ allocations for transport authorities in the North and Midlands, with five combined authorities getting nearly half of the cash.

The Greater Manchester Combined Authority will receive £16.3m, Liverpool City Region CA £8.8m, the Joint Transport Committee in the North East £11.2m, the West Midlands CA £16.6m and the West Yorkshire CA £13.4m.

Graham Vidler, CEO of the Confederation of Passenger Transport, said the announcement was welcome news, but added: ‘Operators and local authorities are keen to get started in making this investment a success, and ensuring it delivers the improvements that passengers want. But this can’t happen without clear direction from Government on how funding will be distributed.

‘Today’s announcement confirms how just under a fifth will be allocated. This is not enough clarity for bus operators and local transport authorities to confidently plan longer term bus investment, while continuing to deliver good services for passengers.’

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