The battle to improve the West of England’s bus services has been boosted by cross-party support for the Metro Mayor’s call for more government cash.
A letter from Metro Mayor Dan Norris to Baroness Vere, the Government Minister in charge of buses, has received local Lib Dem and Tory MP backing.
It explains that the government’s sudden two-thirds reduction in funding for West of England services on 31 August has led to local bus companies cutting some routes this month, and warns that without a change in direction more bus routes could be under threat.
The latest round of government support for buses is based on an assumption that passenger numbers have recovered to 80 per cent of pre-pandemic levels. However while passenger numbers are on the up, currently the buses are running only 63 per cent.
The joint letter, which is signed by Metro Mayor Dan Norris, Chris Skidmore MP (Con, Kingswood), Jack Lopresti MP (Con, Filton and Bradley Stoke), Wera Hobhouse MP (Lib Dem, Bath), and Bristol Labour MPs Thangam Debbonaire, Darren Jones, Kerry McCarthy and Karin Smyth argues for “a more tapered reduction” in funding support.
Metro Mayor Dan Norris said: “MPs of all parties rightly recognise that whilst West of England bus passenger numbers are recovering, government support is falling off a cliff edge.
“This is exactly the opposite of what is needed if we are to encourage people to keep using public transport and help meet our ambitious net zero targets.
“We need government money to head west from London to benefit communities which depend on bus services to get to work and study, to go shopping, and to enjoy a social life. These aren’t luxuries: they are bread-and-butter needs for many local people.”