The UK has announced a bus funding package worth £220m (€248.47m) in its first year, to include municipal networks of ‘Superbuses’ and a fully electric bus town.
The package will reverse many of the cuts implemented to public transport services by successive Conservative governments since 2010. The government plans to draw up a long term strategy and settlement mechanism for bus funding, as well as investing in new methods of public transport provision in areas where bus use has dwindled and developing app software to provide bus users with information on bus routes, times and fares across different providers.
A series of ‘Superbus’ networks – areas of bus provision where fares are kept low and extra priorities are put in place to ensure buses can reach their destination promptly – are to be introduced in areas with high levels of deprivation and social exclusion; with the first Superbus route set to be rolled out in Cornwall later this year. In the West Midlands, meanwhile, £20m will be deployed to create new ‘express lanes’ for buses. As part of its wider bus funding package, the Department for Transport has declared it will create an ‘all-electric’ bus town, replacing the entire bus fleet in an as yet undetermined town with wireless electric buses.
The Department for Transport’s guidance paper, ‘A better deal for bus users’, says: ‘Buses play a vital role in our transport system. Responsible for around 12 million journeys a day, our buses transport more people than any other form of public transport – getting people to work, to education and to see friends and family, the everyday journeys that make up our lives. We are already undertaking transformational programmes on our rail and road networks and we know people also want better local public transport. Buses have huge potential as part of a smart, affordable, sustainable public transport system. Fill a double decker with motorists and it’s possible to remove 75 cars from the road. They can help ease congestion in our towns, cities and countryside, improve air quality and support better connected communities.’