Mayors urge government action on bus funding

Mayors urge government action on bus funding

Four northern mayors have demanded the government take action as the Bus Service Recovery Grant (BSRG) comes to an end.

BSRG supports commercial bus operators where fewer people are using their services due to the pandemic and is due to end in October.  

West Yorkshire CA mayor Tracy Brabin, South Yorkshire CA mayor Oliver Coppard, mayor of Liverpool City Region CA Steve Rotheram and mayor of the North of Tyne CA Jamie Driscoll have written to transport secretary Grant Shapps, chancellor Nadhim Zahawi and Conservative leadership candidates Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss calling for action.

Operators have given notices that they will not have enough money to fund current services if the grant ends.

The letter said: “In each of our regions, bus operators have now notified that they intend to withdraw hundreds of bus routes, resulting in many communities losing access to any form of public transport.

“In addition, a large number of routes will lose all services after 7pm, preventing many shift workers using bus services to travel to and from work. Over half of all bus routes will be affected in some form.”

“Without action, the changes to bus provision will have a devastating effect on the communities affected, add to the cost-of-living crisis and will compromise the aims of the National Bus Strategy introduced just last year.”

In West Yorkshire, bus operators have said that the end of the grant would mean the withdrawal of 26 services. In addition, 25 routes will lose all services after 7pm.

Coppard said: “We are facing the biggest and most devastating bus cuts for a generation, because of a broken system which is failing passengers.

“A reliable, affordable, clean bus service is vital, not just so everyone can get to where they need to go, but so they can get there without using a car, cutting the toxic traffic choking our region.

“We’ve stepped in with emergency money to support school buses, I’m moving as fast as the law currently allows to assess bringing in more public control through franchising, and I’ve called on the government for emergency funding to keep services going.

“But the budget we have to support buses is limited and will not stretch to fill all the gaps. Public money can only buy back around half the services bus companies plan to cut.”