Connectivity Fund recommended by pteg

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Existing BSOG money would be absorbed – plus a further £0.5bn to reflect the crossdepartmental benefits of supporting services

‘Making the Connections: the cross-sector benefits of supporting bus services,’ is a new report published by pteg (Passenger Transport Executive Group).

It finds that the bus is key to achieving 46 policy goals of 12 of 24 Government departments including the Department for Work and Pensions, HM Treasury, Department of Health, Department for Education and Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.

In major urban areas outside London, bus networks are estimated to generate over £2.5bn in economic benefits against pubic funding of £0.5bn, says pteg. However, the way in which bus services are funded is mired in complexity with no oversight within Whitehall of how the various funding streams from different departments impact on bus services overall.

The report says that: “The cumulative impact of public spending cuts on the six main funding sources for bus means that, by 2014/15, overall funding for bus networks outside London will be around £500m lower than if 2010/11 funding levels had increased in line with inflation and the cost of concessionary reimbursement.”

It calls for buses to be funded through a new Connectivity Fund that would absorb existing BSOG funding, plus a further £0.5bn to reflect the cross departmental benefits of supporting services and the sum lost outside London since 2010.

“The bus is one of the biggest bargains available to transport policy makers in achieving a very broad range of transport, economic, environmental and social objectives in a cost effective way and in a timely fashion,” concludes the report.

“Public funding for bus services reduces congestion for all road users, gets the workless into work, gets young people into education and training, and gets older and disabled people out of isolation.

“The long-term costs to budgets across Whitehall of a declining bus network are far greater than ensuring a funding system for bus services that works. At present the way in which buses are funded is mired in complexity, fails to reflect the cross sector benefits that bus services provide, has no central oversight and is in decline.”