The Urban Transport Group submitted its contribution to next month’s Spring Budget, warning that the future of bus services in England "hangs in the balance" as government funding needed to keep the services going expires at the end of March.
In its submission to the Treasury, the group urged the government to prioritize spending on local urban transport, to prevent many bus services from being axed, according to the group's news release.
The government has provided financial support to the bus (and light rail systems) both during and since the pandemic, in order to keep services running. However, this additional funding for bus (outside London) is due to expire at the end of March. Funding for light rail has already ended.
“The future of bus services in England hangs in the balance," said Jonathan Bray, director of the Urban Transport Group. "Government has provided welcome financial support for the bus, but — with passenger numbers still well below pre-pandemic levels — we urgently need a decision to continue funding otherwise many services will disappear overnight. Given that the bus is often relied upon by those with the least, protecting it will help the Government’s leveling up aspirations, as well contributing to its goals around decarbonization."
The Urban Transport Group is calling for a long-term approach to funding local public transport services which:
- is capable of delivering the national bus strategy’s aspirations for more, better, cheaper, and greener bus services and for sustaining light rail systems;
- is streamlined;
- is devolved to those transport authorities that wish to take responsibility for it.