Hundreds of extra bus services in England threatened by lack of funding | Transportation

Hundreds of other declining bus services in England could be cut next week with funding shortages looming, transport authorities have warned.

Labor said the government has “just 10 days to act” before operators start having to cut routes as state support expires after the pandemic.

The Bus Recovery Grant, brought in to keep services running as passenger numbers slowly returned after Covid-19, will run out at the end of March, after a £130m six-month emergency extension avoided a similar financial cliff last summer.

Although the government says it has spent more than £2billion to support bus services since the start of the pandemic, no long-term funding deal has yet been decided. The Urban Transport Group, which represents the city’s seven largest transport authorities, has warned the Treasury that public transport “is at stake” as the funding deadline approaches.

Bus operators must give six weeks notice of planned reductions or changes to routes, many of which are under review. According to the Confederation of Passenger Transport [CPT]which represents the bus companies, around 10 to 15% of services could be cut.

According to analysis by Labour, this means more than 1,600 more roads could be affected this spring, leaving England with less than 10,000 roads for the first time since figures were first recorded a year ago. a little over 20 years.

Shadow transport secretary Louise Haigh said the government was ‘asleep at the wheel, risking the future of services on which millions of passengers depend’.

She added: “They have 10 days to act or services could plunge to an all-time low. After 13 years of Tories, the bus services that communities depend on are stumbling from one crisis to another.

Graham Vidler, chief executive of the CPT, said: “Bus passengers face uncertainty as local authorities and operators are uncertain about whether certain services will be kept afloat, if the bus recovery grant is not replaced in April.

“Without replacement, government support for bus services next year is expected to be more than 20% lower in real terms than it was a decade ago. While operators and local authorities will work hard to protect vital services, a reduction in government funding in April could lead to a 10-15% reduction in bus services nationwide.

Operating costs have risen dramatically, with increases in fuel and wages outpacing inflation, while passenger numbers in many places remain below pre-Covid levels.

Jonathan Bray, director of the Urban Transport Group, said longer-term funding certainty was needed for transport authorities to continue providing buses. He said: “The future of bus services in England hangs in the balance. The government has provided welcome financial support for the bus, but – with passenger numbers still well below pre-pandemic levels – we we urgently need a decision to continue funding, otherwise many services will disappear overnight.

The Department of Transportation has been approached for comment.

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