Government commits £5bn to bus and cycling investment

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The funding, which will be delivered over five years, promises higher frequency services, lower and simpler fares, new priority schemes and at least 4,000 zero-emission buses

In a statement in Parliament, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced £5bn of funding to overhaul bus and cycle links for every region outside London. The package of investment will focus on a range of priorities, set to include:

    • Higher frequency services, including evenings and weekends;
    • More ‘turn up and go’ routes where, thanks to a higher frequency, people won’t have to rely on timetables to plan journeys;
    • New priority schemes allowing buses to avoid congested routes;
    • More affordable, simpler fares; and
    • At least 4,000 new zero-emission buses.

The details of the programmes are expected to be announced in the upcoming National Bus Strategy, to be published later this year at the Comprehensive Spending Review. It follows the allocation of £170m on 6 February, which aims to provide the UK’s first all-electric bus town, increase rural mobility and trial new ‘Superbus’ services.

Much of the funding will be put towards delivering ‘at least 4,000’ zero-emission buses. ALEXANDER DENNIS

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “Local transport connections have a truly transformative role to play in levelling up infrastructure across the country. Our daily journeys for work or leisure are about so much more than just getting from A to B – they are the key to accessing skilled jobs and opportunities, boosting businesses and unlocking economic growth for towns, cities and regions across this country.

“That’s why improving connectivity by overhauling bus services and making cycling easier than ever is such an important step forward, to make sure every community has the foundations it needs to thrive.”

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “We want everyone across this country to have the transport services they need to improve their lives and opportunities – to do that, we must invest in the here and now.

“Through today’s buses funding we’ll be bringing about a transformation in bus services to every community, speeding up journeys and capping fares to make high-quality services the norm.

“Our long-term commitment to cycling could not be clearer, with money for new routes, more cyclist support and new ‘Mini-Holland’ schemes, set to make our streets the safest they have been for cyclists.”

Chancellor Sajid Javid said: “We want to level up transport services in every region of the UK. As part of the plan, we are investing £5 billion in bus and cycle links.

“The extra funding will improve people’s everyday journeys, making them quicker and easier.”

Confederation for Passenger Transport CEO, Graham Vidler, commented: “This is welcome news for bus passengers and a strong statement of support for the role of buses in tackling environmental, social and economic issues.

“It is vital that this funding is used to make sustainable, long-term improvements to bus services. We’ll be working with the Government to ensure investment is focused on tackling congestion and supporting the bus industry’s bold plans to transition to zero-emission vehicles.”

Cllr Kim Groves, Chair of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority Transport Committee said: “Each year people in West Yorkshire use buses to make approaching 150 million journeys each year, making them by far the most used and most important form of public transport so I am pleased to see the government finally recognising their importance.

“This money will build upon the work we are already doing through the West Yorkshire Bus Alliance to improve bus travel by investing in infrastructure to make services more punctual and reliable, introducing new, cleaner buses and retrofitting existing ones, and making buses more affordable and easier to use, particularly for young people.

“I have long been calling for a national bus strategy and look forward seeing details from the government on how it proposes to help us ensure bus services can support all our local communities, underpin sustainable growth and achieve our targets for combating climate change.

Go-Ahead Chief Executive David Brown said: “We have been calling for a National Bus Strategy and this announcement is great news for improving bus priority and reducing congestion across the country. We anticipate it leading to more services at weekends and evenings, and accelerating the shift to cleaner, greener buses.

“Buses remain the backbone of public transport and they will play a key part in helping the Government achieve its goals of bringing down emissions, connecting communities and ‘levelling up’ the country.

“Go-Ahead has been leading the way in the development of an electric fleet, and this is a vote of confidence in the investments we have made.

“We look forward to continuing to work with ministers on the development of a sustainable transport policy.”