Metro Mayor Dan Norris has hailed an important new era for buses in the West of England after his long-term funding plan was agreed.
The Council leaders of South Gloucestershire, Bath and NE Somerset, and Bristol withdrew their motion on supported buses and backed a new plan which Metro Mayor Dan Norris proposed with their unanimous backing.
Under the terms of the deal an urgent review will now take place this Summer on where buses across the West of England should run. Then in April 2023 a brand new timetable will kick in. Supported services, which are those valued buses that cannot run commercially, but are important public services, will be funded through contributions from local councils and the Combined Authority. This will include brand new bus services too, thanks to a substantial cash injection that the West of England Combined Authority led by Dan Norris won earlier this year from the Bus Service Improvement Plan Fund. This award was the the second highest anywhere in England.
These services will all be subject to a “value for money mechanism” which had been a red line for Mr Norris who was shocked to find he had inherited services that cost over £200 per passenger for each bus journey they took!
The West of England Combined Authority will also part-fund supported services until April 2023, provided that they cost less than £40 per passenger per journey.
Metro Mayor Dan Norris said:
“This is a victory for common sense. We now have a long-term plan, over a four year period, that will offer stability for passengers and bus companies who want to invest. Leaders agreed with me to end the bonkers situation where bus routes are funded to extraordinary levels through an historic accident – and to instead plough that cash straight back into more bus services. I want more passengers to have a reliable bus service they can depend on and come to feel proud of. This plan means we will reinvest money from fares and remove the hugely costly anomalies. My agreed plan is a vital part of keeping bus services, improving people’s opportunities and meeting our region’s important and ambitious 2030 net zero targets.”