1 July 2013: We have been campaigning hard over the last few months, making the case for buses to MPs of all parties. This is quite simple to spell out; the hard part is getting people to listen in the first instance. The facts do speak for themselves though. More people use buses to commute to work than all other modes of public transport combined, generating over £64 Billion in economic output each year. For every £1 invested in buses they generate between £3 and £5 in wider economic benefits. Environmentally, buses are vital as cars produce nearly 60% of all CO2 emissions from road transport, whereas it’s just 5% with buses.
So we’ve made the case, lobbied till we’re blue in the face and last week, the Chancellor took to the despatch box and delivered his Government’s Spending Round for 2015 and beyond. There were not many winners as over £11 Billion was cut from Government Spending, but what does it mean for our beloved buses? Well on the face of it, it’s a mixture of good and bad. So bad news first then…
Mr Osborne committed to cutting a further 10% from local authority budgets, meaning that council leaders across the UK will be forced into making tough decisions to cut local funding for supported bus services on evenings and weekends. These are exactly the bus services that many people rely upon to get them to and from work or training, and central Government know the pressures that Local Authorities are already under. We will be watching closely as it is really now a case of ‘when’, not ‘If’ there are further cuts to supported local bus services.
The good news is that the Bus Service Operators Grant (BSOG), that many bus operators rely upon to run local bus services is safe. We welcome this news from the Chancellor and would like to thank everyone that helped with our campaign to save this vital source of bus funding. This means that many vital services that would have been lost, had BSOG been cut, are safe for now. So it is really a bittersweet end to our Spending Round campaign.
We have talked throughout our Save our Buses Campaign about the human cost of cutting bus services. Young people who cannot access education or training, unemployed people who cannot get to job interviews, older people who rely on buses as a lifeline to independence and well-being. We will continue to work tirelessly for these very people, making the case to the politicians that hold the purse strings.
We would also like to hear from you, if you have been affected by cuts to bus services or if your bus service is under threat, please get in touch.