Residents across Yorkshire are set to enjoy reduced fares, enhanced reliability, and improved bus services, thanks to a further £11.2 million injection from the Government aimed at bolstering local buses until 2025.
On Thursday, 28th September, Roads Minister Richard Holden announced that seven local authorities in Yorkshire are slated to receive the second £11.2 million tranche of the Bus Service Improvement Plan+ (BSIP+) for 2024-25.
This funding supplements the initial £103.2 million in BSIP+ and BSIP investments earmarked for Yorkshire from 2022 through early 2025. This brings the total government assistance for elevating bus services in the region to over £114 million spanning three years.
Local authorities have multiple avenues for employing the fresh BSIP+ allocations, be it by introducing new services, augmenting existing ones during weekends or evenings, or reducing ticket prices for elderly or young passengers. Moreover, the funding can be utilised to safeguard bus services with lower ridership, ensuring that essential services remain accessible for Yorkshire residents who rely on them.
Roads Minister Richard Holden said; “Buses are the most popular form of public transport, and so many residents in Yorkshire rely on their local service to get to work, attend medical appointments, and see loved ones.
“We are delivering for local communities across six local authorities by providing a further £11.2 million to improve and protect essential local services, as we continue to boost transport connections in Yorkshire to help grow the economy.”
The new BSIP+ funding for Yorkshire is a component of a broader £160 million drive to refine bus services throughout England from 2022 to 2025. This supplements an additional £140 million announced in May via the extension of the Bus Service Operators Grant (BSOG), bringing the total allocation for supporting and preserving bus services across England to £300 million until 2025.
In a bid to alleviate the strain of living costs and reduce everyday travel expenses, the government has committed £200 million to extend the bus fare cap. This means single bus tickets will be capped at £2 outside London until the end of October 2023, and subsequently at £2.50 until 30th November 2024. The £2 fare cap has notably lowered travel expenses, particularly in rural areas, where buses play a vital role in transportation. This has resulted in an average fare reduction of 10.8% in rural and non-metropolitan areas of England.
Silviya Barrett, from Campaign for Better Transport, said; “We’re pleased the £2 bus fare cap we campaigned for has been a success, reducing fares and boosting passenger numbers.
“The additional funds for local authorities announced today are also welcome and we hope that this is just the start of ongoing investment in bus networks across the country.”
These endeavours bring the total government funding for safeguarding and enhancing bus services while keeping fares affordable in England to £3.5 billion since 2020. While it falls under the purview of bus operators and local transport authorities to ensure an adequate provision of bus routes, the Government maintains a close collaborative relationship with the sector to assist local areas in adapting to evolving travel patterns while managing fiscal pressures.
Janette Bell, Managing Director of First Bus said; “We welcome the certainty provided by today’s confirmation of the next tranche of local authority funding allocations.
“We look forward to working together with our local authority partners to deliver the best services possible for our customers. At First Bus we are driven by a passion to get more people using the bus and we welcome any funding that makes taking the bus an easier travel choice.”
In addition to the £3.5 billion dedicated to bus support since 2020, the government has allocated £5.7 billion to eight mayoral combined authorities in England for bolstering integrated, cross-modal transport networks over the ensuing five years via the City Region Sustainable Transport Settlement (CRSTS), which encompasses support for bus infrastructure.
The Department has also recently affirmed a £129 million outlay for deploying hundreds of additional zero-emission buses, with the initial £25 million specifically earmarked for rural communities. This raises the total government investment in new zero-emission buses to nearly £500 million.