Last night, the government announced that it to commit £5bn into regional buses and cycling routes outside of London, over a five year period.
The County Councils Network has welcomed this news, with rural bus usage an issue in county areas. An analysis from the network shows that funding for bus services has almost halved since 2010, compared to a 19% drop in funding for city regions.
Consequently, bus usage has declined in rural areas, with some routes all but disappearing in areas with councils unable to afford to keep subsidising services.
The government has yet to reveal the distribution of the funding.
Cllr David Williams, chairman of the County Councils Network, said:
“The County Councils Network welcomes today’s announcement that the government is to invest in £5bn in regional buses and cycling outside of London. Councils in shire counties have seen their funding almost half for local bus services since 2010, compared to a 19% drop for the major cities. As a result, buses are almost non-existent in some of the most rural and coastal areas where services are a lifeline, while county towns suffer from less frequent and more expensive services compared cities.
“Therefore, is imperative that access to this funding is open to all areas and it is distributed fairly.
“If the government is to fulfil its pledge to level up services in England, it must get this resource to the frontline quickly. The National Bus Strategy should ensure that funding is provided directly to county and unitary authorities in England, with all transport authorities given the powers, freedoms and flexibility to overhaul and improve local services, and replace lost routes.
“We look forward to further details and working with government to deliver its vision for improved local transport.”