Boris backs the buses
But critics question whether it is enough.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced £5 billion of new funding to overhaul bus and cycle links for every region outside London.
The package of investment will boost bus services by focusing on a range of priorities, set to include:
- Higher frequency services, including evenings and weekends
- More ‘turn up and go’ routes
- New priority schemes to make routes more efficient, so that buses avoid congested roads and to speed passengers through traffic
- More affordable, simpler fares
- At least 4,000 new zero emission buses
Details of the programmes in this five-year funding package are to be published later this year at the Comprehensive Spending Review. The funding is in addition to the £170 million pledged to support more electric buses, increase rural mobility and trial new ‘Superbus’ services.
As part of the announcement, dozens of new ‘Mini-Holland’ schemes will be taken forward to promote cycling.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said:
“Local transport connections have a truly transformative role to play in levelling up infrastructure across the country.”
“Our daily journeys for work or leisure are about so much more than just getting from A to B – they are the key to accessing skilled jobs and opportunities, boosting businesses and unlocking economic growth for towns, cities and regions across this country.”
“That’s why improving connectivity by overhauling bus services and making cycling easier than ever is such an important step forward, to make sure every community has the foundations it needs to thrive.”
Confederation of Passenger Transport Chief Executive, Graham Vidler, said: “This is welcome news for bus passengers and a strong statement of support for the role of buses in tackling environmental, social and economic issues.
“It is vital that this funding is used to make sustainable, long-term improvements to bus services. We’ll be working with Government to ensure investment is focused on tackling congestion and supporting the bus industry’s bold plans to transition to zero emission vehicles.”
Labour questioned whether the investment is enough, describing it as ‘unambitious’. Andy McDonald MP, Labour’s Shadow Transport Secretary, said: “After years of underinvestment and cuts, this unambitious announcement is nowhere near enough to make the difference that transport users, our economy or our environment need.
“The Conservatives are refusing to reverse their colossal £645m a year cuts to bus budgets, which have has caused thousands of routes to be axed and fares to soar.”