Prime Minister Boris Johnson has unveiled the most ambitious shake-up of the bus sector in a generation, which will see the end of de-regulation, 35 years after it started in 1986.
The sale of new diesel buses will also come to an end, and the announcement re-affirms last year’s promise of 4,000 new British-built electric or hydrogen buses, while safeguarding the UK bus manufacturing industry.
Revealing what it describes as a ‘London-style system’, the government’s new bus strategy in England, backed by £3bn investment, will see passengers “benefiting from more frequent, more reliable, easier to use and understand, better coordinated and cheaper bus services,” says the DfT.
Emergency support for existing services only, not new ones
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 £3bn transformational investment.
The government 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.
Announcing the new policy, the Prime Minister says the “fragmented, fully-commercialised market, which has operated outside London since 1986, will end.”
Instead, a new system 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.”
Ten-Point Plan in action
The Prime Minister’s ten point plan, published in November 2020, sets out how the government will accelerate the transition to greener and more sustainable transport.
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
The Government 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 by at least 2030
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