Government extends support schemes for bus industry

Government extends support schemes for bus industry

Bus Recovery Grant & Bus Fare Cap Grant

Although 148 bus operators and millions of passengers have taken advantage of the new £2 flat fare scheme since it began last month, the government has extended the Bus Recovery Grant revenue support and Bus Fare Cap Grant scheme in England for another three months, until the end of June.

The additional total funding of £155 million will be split between protecting vital bus services that people rely on for work, education, medical appointments and shopping, as well as capping single bus fares outside of London at £2.

According to the Secretary of State for Transport, Mark Harper, ministers recognised that the withdrawal of funding after 31st March had the potential to see hundreds more bus services being axed. Although it remains voluntary, it is hoped that more bus operators in England outside London will participate in the Bus Fare Cap Grant scheme during its second three-month period in April, May and June. The Grant utilises a lump sum reimbursement that was calculated for the first three months of the scheme utilising baseline data supplied by operators. A number chose not to take part on that basis, citing revenue loss as the main objection, which they felt would not be offset by a rise in predicted passengers.

The scheme has, however, shown early signs of increased bus use, with an independent survey of 1,000 people from passenger watchdog, Transport Focus, finding 7% of respondents were using buses more.

Janette Bell, Managing Director for First Bus UK, said: “We welcome the government’s extension of the Bus Recovery Grant, which will help protect vital services for passengers for a further three months. It is now critical all parties use this three-month extension to move away from short-term funding fixes and instead, build a sustainable settlement to unlock the economic, net zero and social wellbeing potential of bus services.”