Ticket tech firm criticises BSIP awarding

One of the UK’s most innovative transport app providers says that the award of funding Bus Service Improvement Plans may be fundamentally unfair.

Amid other critiques of the announced BSIP funding, Alistair Aitken, Head of Sales at UK public transport app and website provider, Passenger, commented: “The fact that less than half of Bus Service Improvement Plans (BSIPs) across the country have received funding emphasises the disparity in regional public transport government support. This essentially goes against what the National Bus Strategy set out to achieve in the first place – a transformation of services across the country to get more people travelling by bus.

“Only yesterday, the Campaign for Better Transport revealed that a quarter of bus routes in the UK have been cut in the last decade, with the East of England, North West, and East Midlands seeing the biggest declines. It seems funding has dodged various Local Transport Authorities (LTAs) in these areas, including Cumbria, Lincolnshire, Cheshire West and Chester – instead prioritising others, many of which include large cities like Manchester and Liverpool.

“The Department for Transport stated that those who ‘were not ambitious enough’ were not awarded funding, but there is an argument that those LTAs deemed as such have been underfunded and under-resourced for a long time, and find it more difficult to realise transformation. Many LTAs who received funding have historically been successful in achieving impressive patronage and attracting funding in previous years – so have been able to aim higher and subsequently, create more compelling bids. Underfunded LTAs simply haven’t had the same resources, so in comparison, they likely presented scaled-down, yet achievable plans within their individual areas.

“Ambition should not be a key factor in deciding who gets funding, and who doesn’t. We’ve seen so many stories emerge about rural isolation and bus service cuts, and this will only worsen if these areas do not achieve appropriate funding and support. If the National Bus Strategy is going to be truly successful, the government needs to provide ample support to more areas of the UK.

“Historically underfunded LTAs deserve to be given a chance to show what they can achieve, especially as many partnerships across the UK have worked hard to improve services – and businesses like Passenger are behind them every step of the way. Despite the recent funding announcements, we’re keen to speak to any LTAs who weren’t successful to support their customer experience strategies, even if on a remodelled budget. We believe everyone should have the opportunity to improve their services, and the government needs to adopt a similar mentality.”

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