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Bus funding down nearly £400m per year in past decade – report

More than 3,000 council-supported bus services have been lost or reduced in the past decade, the research found.

More than 3,000 council-supported bus services have been lost or reduced in the past decade (PA)
More than 3,000 council-supported bus services have been lost or reduced in the past decade (PA)

By Neil Lancefield, PA Transport Correspondent

Annual funding for buses in England has fallen by nearly £400 million over the past decade, according to a report.

The Campaign for Better Transport (CBT) said Government support for buses is £234 million a year lower than in 2009/10 while annual local authority funding has dropped by £163 million.

More than 3,000 council-supported bus services have been lost or reduced in the past decade, the research found.

The charity is calling for the creation of a single, ring-fenced, long-term fund to rejuvenate England’s bus network.

It also urged the Government to provide money to accelerate the transition to zero-emission buses and set a 2025 deadline for all new buses to be only electric or hydrogen-powered.

The Department for Transport (DfT) confirmed last month that it will publish a National Bus Strategy including a review of bus funding.

CBT chief executive Darren Shirley said: “Reductions in funding to support bus services has consequences. It leads to isolation and social exclusion and hinders access to employment, education and training as people find it more difficult and costly to travel.

“It hampers efforts to tackle air pollution, greenhouse gas emissions and road congestion.

“The National Bus Strategy offers a chance to turn around the fortunes of many communities that rely on the bus. The Government must put in place a new funding settlement that supports and grows bus networks and delivers social as well as economic and environmental benefits.

Buses are the backbone of public transport, but the spending cuts we have witnessed risk an array of unintended consequences. Successful bus services are vital to the health and well-being of our communities Katy Taylor, Go Ahead Group

“We want to see a thriving, affordable network of buses serving all communities.”

Katy Taylor, commercial and customer director of bus and train operator Go Ahead Group, said: “The Prime Minister’s public enthusiasm for buses is warmly welcome, but this report shows the stark reality for services in many parts of the country.

“Buses are the backbone of public transport, but the spending cuts we have witnessed risk an array of unintended consequences.

“Successful bus services are vital to the health and well-being of our communities.”

A spokesman for the DfT said: “Buses are vital for connecting people, homes and businesses, which is why we support local bus services with a £250 million annual grant to help operators keep their fares lower and service levels higher.

“We recently announced an additional £220 million to deliver a bus revolution to boost services and make journeys greener, easier and more reliable than ever.”

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