Buses are England's most used form of public transport, accounting for over 4.5 billion passenger journeys a year. Buses support our economy and connect our communities to the workplace, as well as to vital public services such as healthcare and education.
A great deal has been achieved through innovation by the bus industry, and through joint working between the bus industry and the Government. Operators are making great strides to improve the experience for their passengers. For instance, smart ticketing, whether on contactless cards, smartcards or otherwise, makes journeys across modes easier and speeds up journey times.
The Government has also played its part. We have provided over £200m through the Local Growth Fund for 15 bus schemes, including new bus stations, rapid transit schemes and bus priority corridors. We have also provided funding to reduce emissions from buses and to tackle air quality hotspots. The Government has provided £30m via the Low Emission Bus Scheme, which has funded over 300 low emission buses and over £7.6m worth of supporting infrastructure. As part of the autumn statement, the chancellor announced more funding for future transport technologies.
The Government is in the process of making legislative changes to help to unlock the significant potential that exists in the bus industry. The Bus Services Bill will improve options for partnership working between local authorities and operators, allowing local authorities and bus operators to agree their own standards for services in their area. The Bill will also refresh powers for local authorities to franchise bus services and make it easier for passengers to access information on timetables, fares and routes.
I want to see a thriving and innovative commercial bus sector, and to help the industry increase passenger numbers. I want to encourage the sector to continue working with government, both local and central, and customers to introduce schemes and products that will make bus travel even easier and even more attractive.
Reference: Transport Times UK Bus Supplement 2017 - available to download here.
Andrew Jones MP will be giving the keynote speech, this Thursday (February 9th), at the Transport Times Conference The UK Bus Summit in London. For more information and how to book places at the event please click here.