The Scottish Government’s £500m Bus Partnership Fund to deliver bus priority measures faces an uncertain future because of Covid-19, Transport Scotland has indicated.
The multi-year fund was announced by the Government last September in the SNP administration’s programme for government. The first grant awards were due to be made in 2020/21.
The fund’s future is discussed in a background document published last week alongside the news of a £10m fund for temporary bus priority measures.
Says Transport Scotland: “As is the case with the rest of the Scottish Government, Transport Scotland resources have been pivoted to respond to Covid-19 and the challenges that it presents. This has resulted in a significant reprioritisation of work within the organisation that will have an impact on a range of policy areas.
“At the time of writing, we have no indication that the Bus Partnership Fund will not resume at some point. Whilst we cannot be specific about when this will happen we will continue to keep stakeholders updated, as soon as we have more information.”
The new £10m Bus Priority Rapid Deployment Fund will pay for temporary measures such as reallocating roadspace to buses, bus gates, traffic light prioritisation, bus stops, and associated administrative costs. It cannot be used for permanent infrastructure.
The funding will ease congestion for buses at a time when many people are expected to use cars to minimise their risk of catching Covid-19.
Transport Scotland has announced a more generous grant entitlement for the new £8.8m round of its Bus Emissions Abatement Retrofit (BEAR) scheme.
The funding helps pay for retrofit equipment to bring mid-life buses up to Euro VI emissions standard, supporting Scotland’s low emission zones programme for Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Dundee.
LTT reported last year that Transport Scotland was offering grants of just 40-60 per cent for retrofit equipment whereas many local authorities in England were meeting the full costs (LTT 01 Feb 19).
The European Commission has now cleared Transport Scotland’s new offer that will see operators receive up to 95 per cent grant funding towards the capital costs of accredited retrofit exhaust abatement retrofit technology over a five-year period.
The £8.8m should fund up to 500 buses in 2020/21. Bidding is open to 6 August.
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