29 September 2015
Campaign for Better Transport has called for urgent action to stem the collapse in bus services and fast rising fares across England.
New Government statistics showed a fall of 27 million in the number of bus journeys taken in England with fares continuing to raise significantly faster than inflation. This coincides with local authorities continuing to withdraw services in the face of funding cuts from central Government.
Martin Abrams, Public Transport Campaigner at the Campaign for Better Transport, said
"Since 2010, the government has made swinging year on year cuts in support for buses. These statistics show the impact of those cuts with bus services disappearing, isolating whole communities and leaving ever more people unable to get to education, jobs and other basic services."
Campaign for Better Transport has identified two key areas for Government action to support buses:
- Buses Bill: A new Buses Bill was included in the 2015 Queen's Speech. As yet unpublished, this new primary legislation needs to give cities and regions power to improve and develop bus services, backed up by proper funding.
- Stop grant cuts: The Bus Service Operators Grant (BSOG) works as a tax rebate supporting local bus services. It reportedly under severe pressure as part of the government's Spending Review. This vital support ensures the viability of many local bus services and needs to be retained.
Martin Abrams added:
"The government must back up its plans to devolve transport powers in some cities and regions with proper funding. If they really care about buses, the Chancellor will have to put his money where his mouth is. That means not pulling the rug out from under the bus industry and protecting essential funding in the Spending Review, otherwise whole networks of bus services could be lost."
1. 2014/15 Annual Bus Statistics were published by the Department for Transport on 29 September 2015.
Main findings include:
- The year to March 2015 saw an annual fall of 27m in the number of bus journeys taken across England.
- Bus fares continue to rise much faster than inflation, going up by 3.3 per cent in the last year and by an average of 61 per cent in the last decade.
- More than half of England's bus journeys were taken in Greater London.
- Bus journeys in the capital continued to increase but only by 0.1 percent. Bus journeys across the rest of the country fell by 1.3 per cent
2. Research by Campaign for Better Transport shows the steep fall in the number of services financially supported by local authorities:
- In 2014/15, nearly 500 bus services were cut, altered or withdrawn, bringing the total to over 2,000 routes since 2010
- The overall cut in support for buses in 2014/15 was £9m. This brings the total reduction since 2010/11 to £44m - a 15 per cent reduction
- Half of English local authorities reduced funding for bus services in 2014/15 with North Yorkshire, Cumbria, Herefordshire, Dorset, Nottinghamshire and Worcestershire samong those making the deepest cuts
- Rural areas have been worst hit, seeing average budget reductions of 19 per cent in 2014/15
- Seven Local Authorities now don't spend anything on supported bus services