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Roads to Nowhere

Call for action to support buses as new report shows £182m cut and council bus budgets halved

2 July 2018

A new report released today by Campaign for Better Transport shows funding for supported buses has been halved in the last eight years, leaving many parts of England and Wales without public transport.

The Buses in Crisis report reveals that local authority bus budgets in England and Wales were cut by £20.5 million last year - the eighth year in a row budgets have been cut. Since 2010/11, supported bus budgets in England and Wales have been cut by £182 million - a 45 per cent reduction.

The latest cuts in funding have meant 301 routes were altered or completely withdrawn last year, with a total of over three thousand routes (3,347) altered, reduced or withdrawn in the last eight years.

Steve Chambers, Campaign for Better Transport’s public transport campaigner, said: “Our latest report confirms that the slow death of the supported bus continues, with local authority bus budgets suffering yet another cut this year. The resulting cuts to services mean many people no longer have access to public transport, with rural areas hit especially hard.

"The loss of a bus service has huge implications - it can prevent people accessing jobs and education; have an adverse effect on the local economy with people prevented from getting to shops and businesses; affect people's physical health and mental well-being; and has an inevitable effect on congestion and air pollution as more cars jam up our roads.

"The recent Buses Services Act does have the potential to improve local buses, but it’s not enough on its own. The Government must wake up to the crisis hitting local buses before it's too late. We want to see a proper national strategy for buses backed up by funding, like those that already exist for all other modes of transport. l. Only when we treat what is happening to buses as a national crisis, rather than a local one, will we start to reverse their decline."

Key findings from the report:

  • More than £20 million (£20,211,586) cut from supported bus services in England last year - a nine per cent reduction on the previous year
  • 290 bus services in England were reduced, altered or withdrawn last year
  • 3,088 bus services in England have been reduced, altered or withdrawn since 2010-11
  • 64 per cent of English local authorities reduced or spent nothing on supported bus services last year
  • £211,819 cut from supported bus services in Wales last year- a one per cent reduction on the previous year
  • 259 bus services in Wales have been reduced, altered or withdrawn since 2010-11
  • 82 per cent of Welsh local authorities reduced or spent nothing on supported bus services last year.

Campaign for Better Transport is calling on the Government to introduce a National Investment Strategy for Buses and Coaches, backed up with proper long-term funding, like those that already exist for roads, railways, cycling, walking and other modes. It also wants the Government to come up with new and smarter funding for buses, and to join up the different public sector transport contracts (education, health, social services etc.) in a 'total transport' approach. The report also recommends that local authorities should use the powers in the new Bus Services Act, and urges the Government to encourage and support them to do so.

Steve Chambers added: “Ultimately, policies and funding need to ensure people have access to an affordable and reliable bus network, wherever they live, so they can get access to the jobs, education, health and other services they need.”

ENDS

Spokespeople are available for interviews. For further information please contact the press office on 07984 773 468 or communications@bettertransport.org.uk

Notes to Editors

  • Read our embargoed report here: Buses in Crisis 2018
  • Our Buses in Crisis research is based on Freedom of Information requests to all 110 local transport authorities across England and Wales. Our analysis is based on the responses received and we have not had the resources or time to verify each individual response.
  • Supported buses are services that are subsidised by local authorities because they are not provided by commercial bus companies. They serve communities where no alternative route exists, meaning that any cut or alteration can often have a huge impact on residents and local economies. They also provide services in evenings and at weekends when otherwise services would cease. These subsidised or supported services represent 22 per cent of bus provision in England. This percentage varies considerably across the country, ranging from just five per cent in some urban areas to almost 100 per cent in some rural areas
  • The Bus Services Act gives local authorities new powers including the ability to introduce new forms of partnership schemes and to franchise their bus services, as London does. Campaign for Better Transport is about the publish a guide for local authorities on using the powers in the Act later this week. For more information contact the press office.
  • Campaign for Better Transport is the UK's leading authority on sustainable transport. We champion transport solutions that improve people's lives and reduce environmental damage. Our campaigns push innovative, practical policies at local and national levels. Campaign for Better Transport Charitable Trust is a registered charity (1101929).