Government bus funding disadvantaging rural communities – report
A Campaign for Better Transport report claims the competitive nature of Government funding for local transport is disadvantaging rural local authorities and failing rural communities.
The transport charity found that the Government’s system of asking local transport authorities to compete against each other for funding is consistently producing the same winners and losers. The Government’s most recent funding, intended to transform local bus services, further compounded the problem with the perennial losers missing out yet again.
Campaign for Better Transport analysed allocations of sustainable transport funding from central government for local transport authorities over the last decade, including the Local Sustainable Transport Fund, Transforming Cities Fund, Access Fund, Active Travel Fund, Zero Emission Bus Regional Areas (ZEBRA) scheme and the recent Bus Service Improvement Plan (BSIP) funding.
It found that combined mayoral authorities with large, experienced transport teams, and urban unitary or county councils that already have high levels of ambition and a history of investing in sustainable transport are receiving the bulk of Government funding. Whereas more rural unitary and county councils are repeatedly losing out, despite often needing more support to overcome greater barriers to providing a good bus network such as a more dispersed population and a lower return on investment due to lower passenger numbers than more urban areas. Its analysis found the top 12 local authorities awarded the most government funding are all urban authorities. Of those, eight are mayoral combined authorities.
To address the inherent inequality and lack of funding for buses, Campaign for Better Transport is calling for an end to fragmented and competitive funding, and for money to be reallocated from carbon intensive transport, like road building, into a single funding pot for all local authorities so that all areas can achieve a decent level of provision. It is also calling for a greater proportion of funds allocated to revenue funding to help boost service provision and frequency and to improve affordability for passengers.
“Our analysis has uncovered a painful truth, that the Government’s policy of asking local authorities to compete for local transport funding is producing the same winners and losers time and again” – Silviya Barrett, from Campaign for Better Transport
Silviya Barrett, from Campaign for Better Transport, said: “Our analysis has uncovered a painful truth, that the Government’s policy of asking local authorities to compete for local transport funding is producing the same winners and losers time and again. This shouldn’t be the case. All communities deserve a reliable, regular and affordable bus service. To ensure this happens, the Government must move away from this fragmented and competitive way of funding and replace it with a long-term funding settlement for all transport authorities.”
“Now is the time for Government to commit further, long-term funding to turn the ambition of the national bus strategy into tangible improvements for passengers everywhere” – Graham Vidler, Chief Executive of CPT
Graham Vidler, Chief Executive of CPT, said: “Campaign for Better Transport’s research highlights the very different outcomes which local authorities have seen in recent rounds of bidding to transform bus services. Now is the time for Government to commit further, long-term funding to turn the ambition of the national bus strategy into tangible improvements for passengers everywhere.”