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DfT awards councils another £80m to protect and improve bus services

Deniz Huseyin
05 October 2023

More than 60 English councils are to get a total of £80m funding from the Government to improve their bus services. This marks the 2024-25 allocation in the Bus Service Improvement Plan+ (BSIP+), following the £80m allocation for 2023-24, and the £1bn BSIP funding announced in 2022. 

An additional £140m was announced by the DfT in May from the extension of the Bus Service Operators Grant (BSOG).

The list of 64 local authorities to be allocated funding can be found here: https://tinyurl.com/bde9e7sk

A DfT spokesperson told LTT: “Some councils have been offered further funding, but the majority of the new funding has been given to councils which did not receive it in 2022/2023 in order to spread the money more equally.”

Councils can use the funding to bring in new services or routes, extend timetables in the morning and evening, or by making tickets cheaper through reduced fares for elderly or young people, said the DfT. The investment could also be used to protect bus services with low passenger numbers.

The DFT said it has also invested £200m to extend the bus fare cap, with single bus tickets capped at £2 outside London until the end of October 2023 and then at £2.50 until 30 November 2024.

The £2 fare cap has cut travel costs particularly in rural areas, “where buses are crucial for so many people to get around, with the average fare dropping by 10.8% in rural and non-metropolitan parts of England”.

The DfT estimates it has provided £3.5bn to protect and support bus services since 2020.

“While it is the responsibility of bus operators and local transport authorities to ensure an adequate provision of bus routes, the Government continues to work closely with the sector to support local areas in dealing with changing travel patterns while managing pressures on the taxpayer,” said the DfT. 

Further support for bus infrastructure is being offer through the City Region Sustainable Transport Settlement (CRSTS). 

The Government said this has provided £5.7m to eight mayoral combined authorities in England to support integrated, cross-modal transport networks over the next five years.

The DfT has also confirmed £129m to enable the roll-out of zero emission buses, with the first £25m prioritised specifically for rural communities. This brings total government investment in new zero-emission buses to almost £50m.

•     The Government has published its £2 Bus Fare Cap Second Interim Evaluation report, analysing the initial impact of the cap in January and February 2023, the first two months of the measure. 

The “Get Around for £2” scheme has so far encouraged people to get back on the bus, with almost half of respondents saying the fare cap is the main reason they are using the bus more, according to the report. Over 50 million single bus tickets were sold in England over January and February 2023, two-thirds of which were capped.

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