£150m boost for UK local bus services

Money is part of reallocation of £36bn due to be spend on now-abandoned HS2
Mobility as a Service / October 23, 2023
By Adam Hill
Bus service community transport vulnerable users (image: Department for Transport)
Bus boost (image: Department for Transport)

£150 million is to be put into improving local bus services across the North and Midlands of the UK over the financial year 2024-25.

It will be up to local authorities how to spend the money, the first part of the UK government's reallocation of £36 billion which had been earmarked for the now-scrapped HS2 high-speed rail line.

The government says there will be an eventual total of £1 billion in new funding on bus services in those regions as part of the Network North Plan.

UK prime minister Rishi Sunak said: "Local authorities may use the additional funding to reintroduce evening services to support the night-time economy, increase service frequency meaning less waiting time for passengers, introduce new routes to ensure areas previously unconnected are now connected or introduce a demand-responsive transport service to improve connectivity in rural areas."

The 'Get Around For £2' bus fare cap scheme, introduced across the UK in January, will be extended until 31 December 2024.

The government says it has now invested nearly £600 million to cap fares at £2, which the UK Department for Transport says has helped encourage people to use buses.

The government says it has also boosted funding for community transport services, helping older and vulnerable people to get to the shops, or to medical appointments, and to see family.

The money, through the Bus Service Operators Grant (BSOG), will help keep fares down and is part of the government's £260 million annual BSOG payments to support bus services in England outside of London.

Victoria Armstrong, chief executive of the Community Transport Association, says: "Community transport plays a vital role in connecting people in our communities to health care appointments and social opportunities. We welcome DfT’s announcement increasing the funding for community transport organisations and are pleased that the DfT has listened to the needs of the community transport sector and responded by increasing this essential funding."

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