Campaign outlines councils’ cuts to bus funding

According to data collated via freedom of information (FoI) request submitted by the Campaign for Better Transport, £30 million of bus funding has been cut in last year alone leading to the closure of hundreds of routes.

Campaign for Better Transport submitted over 100 FoI requests to local authorities and discovered funding for buses across England and Wales had been cut by a third since 2010.

The campaign group identified that council bus funding was reduced by nearly £30 milion and over 500 routes were closed as a result.

Responding to the statistics, Cllr Martin Tett, Transport spokesman for the Local Government Association (LGA), argued: "Councils know how important buses are for their communities and local economies and are desperate to protect them. However, councils suffered a 40 per cent reduction in core funding over the previous Parliament and are continuing to experience funding pressures.  Local government faces a challenging overall funding gap of £5.8 billion by 2019/20.

"Councils have long called for more freedom to improve services and it is vital that, with the Bus Services Bill currently going through Parliament, government recognises this.

"It is also crucial the concessionary fares scheme, which provides a lifeline for our most vulnerable residents, is fully funded to ease the pressure on stretched council budgets and protect cherished bus services.

"Years of underfunding of the concessionary fares scheme have forced councils to spend millions of pounds of taxpayers' money to subsidise it, jeopardising councils' ability to support vital routes as they make savings while struggling to protect vital services like adult social care, protecting children, filling potholes and collecting bins. 

"It is also essential that the Bus Service Operators' Grant – a fuel duty rebate paid directly to bus operators by the government – should also be handed to councils."

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