Thank you for contacting me about local bus services.
Bus services are essential for enabling people to get to work, to school, to the doctor’s or to hospital. While responsibility for delivering bus services rests with local transport authorities, the Government is committed to supporting local bus services.
Indeed, Ministers oversee the transfer of approximately £250 million of funding to support local bus services each year, £40 million of which goes towards protecting routes that are important for local people but that would otherwise be unviable commercially. I also welcome the recent announcement that the Department for Transport will continue to safeguard the free bus pass for disabled and elderly people, with funding of around £1 billion annually.
The Bus Services Act 2017 was passed by the Government with the intention of supporting rural bus services and helping to ensure that the needs of rural communities, who rely on busses to travel to work, school and pursue leisure opportunities, are met. Rural bus services are among the most difficult to provide, so the Act offers local authorities in England tools to assist with running services effectively. These include flexibility when procuring franchises and enhanced partnership provisions that allow local authorities and providers to agree on certain specific standards, for example the regularity of services and the fleet of busses.
In addition, the Government has set aside over £200 million since 2010 to replace and upgrade our buses – meaning over 5,000 cleaner and better buses on our roads.
Furthermore, the Bus Services Act (2017) gives local authorities powers to work more closely with operators to drive up the quality and consistency of bus services. It also gives powers to combined authorities with directly elected Mayors to franchise services, allowing them to take control of their services, as Transport for London does in London.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.
Craig Whittaker MP