Bus operators have warned of a multi-billion-pound funding gap between plans by local authorities and bus operators to improve services and the funding promised by the Government.
To deliver the National Bus Strategy local authorities and bus operators were tasked with drawing up Bus Service Improvement Plans (BSIPs) to set out how, with Government funding, they would work together to transform bus services.
In the autumn Spending Review, the Chancellor announced £3bn of funding for buses, only £1.2bn of which was new money. This £3bn was lower than an earlier suggested figure of £5bn for bus and cycling infrastructure.
However, according to the Confederation of Passenger Transport trade group, BSIPs require well over £7bn to be delivered. They argue that there is a funding gap of over £5bn.
Without further funding from the Government the ambitions of most BSIPs will go unfulfilled, the CPT warn.
‘The National Bus Strategy challenged local authorities and bus operators to set out jointly how they would transform bus services,’ said CPT chief executive Graham Vidler.
‘They have risen to this challenge and produced ambitious plans right across the country focusing on new fare and ticketing initiatives, investment in measures to make the bus more reliable, improved facilities for passengers and new zero emission buses.
‘The scale of this ambition will not be met though with the funds that were announced at the Spending Review. Current funding is likely to be able to transform bus services in only a small number of places, including our major cities, but the vision of the National Bus Strategy was rightly much greater.’
In response, a Department for Transport spokesperson said: 'Our ambitious National Bus Strategy sets out how services need to be overhauled, helping to connect communities as we build back better from the pandemic.
'We are investing £3bn of new money on buses, double the dedicated funding compared to the previous Parliament.'