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Roads to Nowhere

Charity reveals extent of bus funding cuts, and how new funding settlement could reverse the decline

25 October 2019

Funding for buses in England is almost £400 million a year lower than it was ten years ago, Campaign for Better Transport has revealed today, 25 October 2019. The Government's promised National Bus Strategy must herald a change in the way buses are funded, with a multi-year revenue funding settlement as well as capital support for the transition to a zero-emission bus fleet.

Following analysis of government datasets and data obtained from Freedom of Information requests to all local transport authorities in England, the new report on future funding for buses reveals that:

  • National Government support for buses is now £234 million a year lower than in 2009/10
  • Local authority funding for buses is £163 million lower in real terms compared to ten years ago – a reduction of over 40 percent.
  • More than half of local authorities have cut their financial support for buses by 50 per cent or more since 2009.
  • The result has been that well over 3,000 local authority supported bus services have been lost or reduced in a decade; 243 in the past year.

Darren Shirley, Chief Executive of Campaign for Better Transport, said:

"Reductions in funding to support bus services have 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: we want to see a thriving, affordable network of buses serving all communities."

The charity is calling for:

  • A single, ring-fenced, long-term fund, replacing the Bus Service Operators Grant and the English National Concessionary Travel Scheme, aimed at rejuvenating England's bus networks and supporting concessionary fares.
  • Capital support to accelerate the transition to zero emission buses, including a fleet and depot transition fund and a bus manufacturing support fund, as well as a 2025 deadline for all new buses to be only electric or hydrogen-powered.
  • New revenue streams for local authorities to support the growth in public transport, such as Workplace Parking Levies, Clean Air Zones and a pay-as-you-drive road user charge to replace Vehicle Excise Duty and fuel duty.

Bus service black spots revealed

The report reveals a number of local areas where cuts in bus funding have hit particularly hard:

  • Of the 96 local authority supported bus routes that were removed completely in the past year, nearly half were in Derbyshire and Northamptonshire.
  • Counties such as Hertfordshire and North Yorkshire have cut funding by over £6 million in a decade, reducing their budgets for supported buses by over 75 per cent.
  • Ten local transport authorities now provide no financial support for buses, including Oxfordshire and Cumbria.

Findings from the analysis from all local authority areas are included in the report.

ENDS

For further information please contact the press office on 020 3746 2235 or communications@bettertransport.org.uk

Notes to editors

Future of the bus: future funding arrangements can be read on Campaign for Better Transport's website.

The Government's commitment to produce a National Bus Strategy was announced by the Chancellor on 30 September 2019 and follows sustained campaigning by Campaign for Better Transport.

Campaign for Better Transport operates in England and Wales. We campaign to bring sustainable transport to all and ensure solutions are delivered that improve the wellbeing of communities, quality of life and the environment. Campaign for Better Transport Charitable Trust is a registered charity (1101929).