Prime Minister Boris Johnson today (15 March 2021) unveils the most ambitious shake-up of the bus sector in a generation, which will see lower, simpler flat fares in towns and cities, turn-up-and-go services on main routes, and new flexible services to reconnect communities.
The government’s new bus strategy, backed by £3 billion of investment, will see passengers across England benefiting from more frequent, more reliable, easier to use and understand, better coordinated and cheaper bus services.
Levelling up services across the country will encourage more people to use the bus, rather than the car, as we build back better from the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
The changes include:
- simpler bus fares with daily price caps, so people can use the bus as many times a day as they need without facing mounting costs
- more services in the evenings and at the weekends
- integrated services and ticketing across all transport modes, so people can easily move from bus to train
- all buses to accept contactless payments
Hundreds of miles of new bus lanes will make journeys quicker and more reliable, getting people out of their cars, reducing pollution and operating costs.
The Prime Minister’s ten point plan sets out how we will accelerate the transition to greener and more sustainable transport.
The report says it will:
- – Deliver 4,000 new British-built electric or hydrogen buses will provide clean, quiet, zero-emission travel.
- – Transition cities and regions across England to emission-free buses, safeguarding the UK bus manufacturing industry.
- – End sales of new diesel buses, and have launched a consultation on the end date today.
It is hoped local authorities and operators will work together to deliver bus services that are so frequent that passengers can just ‘turn up and go’ – no longer needing to rely on a traditional timetable and having the confidence they won’t wait more than a few minutes.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said:
The fragmented, fully commercialised market, which has operated outside London since 1986 will end. The Government say they want to see operators and local councils enter into a statutory “enhanced partnership” or franchising agreements to receive the new funding and deliver the improvements.
It is expected that many councils will choose enhanced partnerships, where local authorities work closely with bus companies, drawing on their operating knowledge and marketing skills. Others may decide that franchising works better for them.
Because of the decline in use caused by the pandemic, bus operators have already received significant emergency support from the government. From this summer, only services under these arrangements will be eligible for continued support or any new sources of funding from the £3 billion transformational investment. The government say they will also consult later this year on reforming the Bus Service Operators Grant – the current main stream of government bus funding – to achieve the same objectives.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, said:
Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands, said:
Anthony Smith, chief executive of independent watchdog Transport Focus, said:
It also sets out ambitions to provide greater access to bus services for all, with plans revealed to require ‘next stop’ announcements onboard buses throughout Great Britain, helping disabled passengers and others to travel with confidence. The government say they will also launch a consultation on new regulations to improve access onboard buses for wheelchair users.
London-style services aren’t appropriate for all rural and suburban areas, which is why the Department for Transport is today also announcing the recipients of the £20 million from the government’s ‘Rural mobility fund’, which enables on-demand services – such as minibuses booked via an app – to be trialled in areas where a traditional bus service isn’t appropriate.