Thank you for contacting me about bus regulation and EDM 382.
As a Government Whip, I do not, by convention, sign any Early Day Motions, as doing so is likely to breach the Ministerial Code’s rules on collective responsibility. However, I can assure you that the UK Government is committed to improving public transport links across the UK and I was concerned to learn that the year before the pandemic hit, bus journeys dropped from 100 million to 89 million a year.
Bus services are clearly facing issues of usage and that the network is confusing owing in part to its split between different companies. That is why I agree with the Prime Minister that bus services cannot be planned exclusively on a commercial basis. To address these issues, and to make buses a more attractive form of transport, I welcome action in England to bring bus operators and local transport authorities together as part of an enhanced partnership or franchise agreement.
The National Bus Strategy sets out how we will reform the way in which bus services across England outside London are provided. Instead of services being planned on a purely commercial basis with little or no engagement from local transport authorities, we want to see the important skillsets and contributions of local transport authorities and bus operators brought together in either Enhanced Partnership or franchising arrangements, to deliver ambitious local visions for better buses. This is backed by our £3 billion of investment. This approach can deliver the bus services that passengers deserve and support our decarbonisation goals by making the bus an attractive alternative to the car for far more people.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.
Craig Whittaker MP