The county council is to receive a share of a two-year £160m Government funding ‘pot’ which it says will help the authority to support the future of public transport, particularly in the most rural areas of the county.
The council has been awarded £1.78m from first-year Bus Service Improvement Plan Plus (BSIP Plus) funding as part of Department for Transport (DfT) settlements to more than 60 local transport authorities in England.
The announcement has been welcomed by Councillor Ozzy O’Shea, cabinet member for highways and transport, as an opportunity to ‘help us better shape the public transport offer in our rural areas.’
And while the council assesses how the funding allocation will be distributed, Councillor O’Shea is encouraging people to get back on the buses and take advantage of a current £2 fare cap extended by the Government as part of the announcement.
While this is only ‘in year’, short-term funding, it does offer a great opportunity to create more-sustainable services and provide a more attractive offer for communities.
It’s also very encouraging that the Government is committed to returning the bus sector to a more sustainable financial footing and the extension of the £2 fare cap until the end of October this year, and £2.50 beyond that, and into 2024, is another positive announcement
Given the fare cap and the value for money offered, I can only encourage people to get out and about and use local services and that will help to revive the market.Person:Councillor Ozzy O'Shea, cabinet member for highways and transport
Councillor O’Shea has also confirmed that the council will be pausing the passenger transport policy and strategy review of the services which the council currently subsidises, although more than 90 per cent of the bus network is run by the commercial sector.
However, the council has also made it clear that the funding boost does not mean it will re-instate bus services which have been withdrawn over the past few months.
Councillor O’Shea added: “It is vital that bus services offer value-for-money and, in using this additional money from Government, we need to ensure it is directed to offer greater connectivity for our communities, rather than continuing to subsidise low-value services.”
The DfT will announce BSIP Plus funding for 2024/25 later in the year.