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Government announces £5 billion of new funding to overhaul bus and cycle links

Tue 11 February 2020 | Back to news list | More bus news

The Government has announced that £5bn of new funding is to be allocated to overhaul bus and cycle links for every region outside London. The Government says that bus services across the country "will be transformed with simpler fares, thousands of new buses, improved routes and higher frequencies".
The package of investment will boost bus services including priorities, to include:
  • Higher frequency services, including evenings and weekends, to make it easier and less restrictive for people to get around at any time of day
  • More ‘turn up and go’ routes where, thanks to higher frequency, people won’t have to rely on timetables to plan journeys
  • New priority schemes will make routes more efficient, so that buses avoid congested routes and can speed passengers through traffic
  • More affordable, simpler fares
  • At least 4,000 new Zero Emission Buses to make greener travel the convenient option, driving forward the UK’s progress on its net zero ambitions
The Government says that details of these programmes will be announced in the upcoming National Bus Strategy, to be published later this year at the Comprehensive Spending Review, and follows the recent announcement that £170 million will be allocated to support more electric buses, increase rural mobility and trial new ‘Superbus’ services.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said:  "Through today’s buses funding we’ll be bringing about a transformation in bus services to every community, speeding up journeys and capping fares to make high-quality services the norm."
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said: "Funding for buses has fallen by £645m a year since 2010, 3,300 routes cut or withdrawn and fares have soared. It's councils that keep bus routes open. We need long-term funding for the local authorities that have suffered such severe cuts and now face a further £8bn black hole over this Parliament."
Welcoming the £5bn announcement, LowCVP's Bus Project Manager, Dan Hayes, said: "£5bn is the kind of funding needed to transform the market in the direction we all need to go and to develop the infrastructure required to support the country's net zero ambitions.
"A significant proportion of the funding announced looks likely be allocated to support the introduction of over 4,000 new zero emission buses - which would represent 10% of the whole UK bus fleet. To meet the target, two in every five new buses will need to be zero emission vehicles; a ten-fold increase compared to the rate of ZEV registrations in the bus market today.
"Buses are critical to the achievement of our net zero ambitions in road transport. The increased level of funding is a key stimulus to reverse decades of decline in the bus market."
Meanwhile, the Government has also announced £50m for England's first all-electric bus town.  Local authorities are being encouraged to bid for money to help pay for a new fleet of electric buses.
The Government is also putting £20m towards trials of on-demand buses, which can be ordered through an app. It is an intended solution for services in rural or suburban areas where passenger demand doesn't justify having fixed routes permanently in place. Such an 'Uber-style' bus service already operates in Oxford and Liverpool.
BBC reports that Oxford Bus Company which runs such a service in the city recently warned that its PickMeUp service "may end" unless it finds additional funding. Despite making 250,000 journeys since the service was launched in June 2018, Oxford Bus Company said "it is still challenging to operate on a fully commercial basis".
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: "With 200 electric buses able to offset 3,700 diesel cars, it is clear they have a crucial role to play in bringing down emissions."
About £30m of funding will go to English local authorities outside of London in 2020, to help them improve or restore bus services that have been cut.

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