£400m a year lost from bus funding

New statistics reveal decline in bus use

A new study by the Campaign for Better Transport has found that funding for buses in England is almost £400m a year lower than it was 10 years ago, laying bare the effect that successive government funding cuts have had on the industry.

The campaign group says its findings demonstrate that the government’s recently announced plans for a National Bus Strategy must herald a change in the way buses are funded with a multi-year revenue funding settlement as well as capital support for the transition to a zero-emission bus fleet.

It says a single, ring-fenced, long-term fund, replacing the Bus Service Operators Grant and the English National Concessionary Travel Scheme, would help rejuvenate England’s bus networks and support concessionary fares.

CBT analysed government datasets and data obtained from Freedom of Information requests to all local transport authorities in England. It found that UK Government support for buses is now £234m a year lower than in 2009/10. Local authority funding for buses is £163m lower in real terms compared to 10 years ago – a reduction of over 40%. More than half of local authorities have cut their financial support for buses by 50% or more since 2009.

The result has been that well over 3,000 local authority supported bus services have been lost or reduced in a decade; 243 in the past year.

Bamford completes Wrightbus acquisition

Bamford Bus Company announced last week that it had acquired Wrightbus, the Northern Ireland bus manufacturer.

Ballymena-based Wrightbus went into administration on September 25, resulting in the loss of 1,200 jobs. The business has now been rescued by Jo Bamford, who has an extensive background in manufacturing, purchasing and sales worldwide.

Bamford will serve as Executive Chairman of Wrightbus and Buta Atwal becomes Chief Executive. Atwal brings significant expertise in leading projects, sales and distribution networks, product design and development. His experience includes managing operations at major JCB factories.

The Wrightbus brand will be retained.

£2m fund for ‘talking buses’

The government has announced a new £2m scheme that aims to help make buses around Great Britain more accessible.

It will see the Real Time Information Group, which supports good practice in the use of communications technology on public transport, work with the Department for Transport to allocate the funding to smaller bus operators. It will enable these operators to install audiovisual information on
their vehicles.

The announcement of the funding coincides with the launch of the It’s Everyone’s Journey campaign, the first stage of a new government-backed initiative to highlight the part everyone can play in improving disabled people’s experiences when using public transport.

West Midlands Metro milestone

Trams arrived in Birmingham’s Centenary Square for the first time last week as full tests of the Westside extension of the West Midlands Metro light rail system got underway.

A series of overnight trials will now see trams running between Grand Central/New Street Station and Centenary Square with full passenger services expected to commence in December. Trams will use battery power instead of overhead catenary lines along the new section of route.

Work on a further extension along Broad Street is now under way.

About the Author

This post was written by Robert Jack. Robert is Managing Editor and Publisher of Passenger Transport. He has worked as a journalist, editor and publisher in the passenger transport sector for 18 years. He has played a key role in many transport-related conferences and events.

Robert Jack

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