After months of campaigning, influencing and persuading, Metro Mayor of the West of England Dan Norris has welcomed a government U-turn that will provide £150 million of funding nationwide to keep local buses running through to October.
The Government has finally agreed to extend emergency covid funding which was due to end in April for a further six months until October to allow extra time for passenger numbers to recover.
The Bus Recovery Grant allows buses to continue to operate when fare revenue does not cover running costs.
The Metro Mayor, who has responsibility for transport, has been in regular contact with the transport minister, bus companies and local MPs who signed a joint letter organised by the Metro Mayor back in September of last year.
The Metro Mayor has questioned why this government decision has been taken so late causing bus companies to already draw up route cut plans. He says this unnecessary uncertainty and worry for passengers could have been avoided.
Metro Mayor Dan Norris says:
“This is undoubtedly a success for our local campaigning. I’m very pleased that we will be able to save more vital bus routes in the West of England.
“Finally there is some 11th hour common sense from the Government. But why did it take so long? I was calling for this back in September last year. So much heartache could have been avoided.
“As always, the devil will be in the detail. I await further information on exactly how much of this cash is specifically for our region.
“Now we urgently need more local people to start using the buses again – it’s that old adage – use it or lose it.
“The greater number of passengers travelling on the buses the more fare income there is, so buses become commercially viable to run.
“Passengers switching to buses will mean fewer traffic jams and pollution and help us tackle the climate emergency and reach our ambitious net zero targets”.