Government to aid buses until April 2022

UK Government is to provide £226.5m of recovery funding to support local bus networks in England.

The money is intended to help ensure they continue to run vital services as Covid-19 restrictions are lifted, Roads Minister Baroness Vere has announced today.

The funding will run from September 2021 to April 2022 and will support operators across England, outside of London, cementing the Government’s commitment to level up transport links as passenger numbers begin to return to pre-pandemic levels.

The recovery funding follows the current emergency support package, which is due to end next month after providing more than £1bn to keep bus services running throughout the pandemic. The money will be provided on a formula basis, ensuring the sector can begin to return to commerciality. The funding will be the final tranche of Covid-related support provided to the sector. In addition to helping maintain services, recovery funding will support the key aims of the National Bus Strategy of encouraging local authorities and operators to work together to deliver better bus services.

It comes as the DfT also announces it has received 35 Expression of Interest applications for the Zero Emission Bus Regional Areas (ZEBRA) scheme, which gives local transport authorities the opportunity to compete for a share of £120m to support the roll-out of zero-emission buses across England.

Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority, Kent County Council, Leicester City Council, Milton Keynes Borough Council, Warrington Borough Council and the West Midlands Combined Authority have been selected under the fast track process to progress to the next stage of the competition.

“Buses are the life-blood of our communities” – Transport Minister, Baroness Vere

Transport Minister, Baroness Vere, said: “Buses are the life-blood of our communities, helping us get to work, school and to see friends and family.

“The recovery funding will ensure vital services continue to run by supporting operators in those initial months as restrictions are lifted and passengers begin to return in higher numbers.

“And as we build back greener from the pandemic, the £120m to roll out zero emission buses will have a profoundly positive effect on our towns and cities, lowering emissions, improving air quality and reducing noise pollution.”

“Today’s announcement recognises the crucial role buses will play in the country’s recovery from Covid-19″ – CPT

A spokesperson from the Confederation of Passenger transport (CPT), said: “Today’s announcement recognises the crucial role buses will play in the country’s recovery from Covid-19.

“Operators will be working with local authorities to ensure the services passengers need are in place as restrictions end and new travel patterns begin to emerge. This will be an integral part of our joint working on bold bus service improvement plans that put buses at the heart of transport networks to maximise the potential of the National Bus Strategy for communities across the country.

“With the Government’s mixed messaging on face coverings likely to cause confusion for passengers we now need to see the Government working with industry to loudly back a return to bus to help the economic recovery in our towns and cities and ensure the country remains on track to meet its ambitious climate change and air quality goals.”

First Bus Managing Director, Janette Bell, said: “We welcome today’s announcement by UK Government of a bus recovery funding package for England which will ensure that an effective bus network can be provided for customers as the economy and the communities we serve emerge from the pandemic.

“We will continue to build on the successful partnerships we have created with local authorities to meet our customers’ needs by developing joint plans for further improvements and innovation over the coming months. It is vital that Government continues to work together with us to encourage more people onto buses in order to deliver economic revival, improve air quality and meet the UK’s net zero ambitions.”

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