Mayors fear funding cut will see bus routes lost

time:2023-06-10 23:23:09source:Al Jazeera author:Press center6

Hundreds of bus routes will be cut unless funding brought in to support services during the pandemic continues, four mayors have said.

Liverpool City Region, North of Tyne, South Yorkshire and West Yorkshire's Labour mayors said many people will have no public transport unless the Bus Service Recovery Grant is renewed.

The grant is due to end in October.

The Department for Transport (DfT) said it had "committed to investing £3bn into bus services by 2025".

The latest government figures showed that weekday bus usage in the UK outside was at about two-thirds of pre-coronavirus levels.

Before the pandemic, commuting accounted for about a third of bus travel, but many of those journeys are no longer being made after the shift towards home-working.

In a joint letter to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Chancellor Nadhim Zahawi and Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, the mayors said half of routes will be affected "in some form" with many losing "all services" after 19:00.

West Yorkshire Mayor Tracy Brabin, North of Tyne Mayor Jamie Driscoll, South Yorkshire Mayor Oliver Coppard and Liverpool City Region Mayor Steve Rotheram said bus operators in their areas had "now notified that they intend to withdraw hundreds of bus routes".

"Without action, the changes to bus provision will have a devastating effect on the communities affected, add to the cost of living crisis and will compromise the aims of the National Bus Strategy introduced just last year," they said.

They added that there was "still time to prevent this" and called for funding to be maintained "in a form which will allow a more managed transition into a new 'post-pandemic' bus network".

A DfT spokesman said the government had "committed to investing £3bn into bus services by 2025 to improve fares, services and infrastructure"

He said it had also already given "nearly £2bn since March 2020 to bus operators and local authorities to mitigate the impacts of the pandemic".

"We continue to listen to the sector and work closely with operators and local transport authorities to support network planning, ensuring all possible steps are taken to protect services," he said.

He added that to "maximise this investment", authorities and operators needed to "work together to ensure routes are commercially sustainable and reflect the needs of passengers post-pandemic".

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