3,000 bus routes compromised in ten years, study says
According to a new study, 3,000 local bus routes have been scrapped or reduced in the last decade amid a fall in funding, which the Campaign for Better Transport says has fuelled “poverty and social exclusion”.
Funding for buses from local authorities has fallen by 40 per cent in that timeframe, with central government contributions down by 19 per cent, according to the campaign group.
The group highlighted “a picture of incoherent and shrinking funding” for local bus services, which have only led to “degraded or lost services and increasing fares”.
Indeed, 96 routes have been fully scrapped in the last ten years according to the study, with almost half of those being in Derbyshire and Northamptonshire.
The Department for Transport responded by pointing out that it allocates a £250 million annual grant to local bus services to push fare prices down.
Furthermore, chancellor Sajid Javid pledged an additional £30 million to improving existing bus routes and relaunching lost services as part of a £220 million package of new investment in September's spending round.
The DfT said: "Buses are vital for connecting people, homes and businesses, which is why we support local bus services with a £250 million annual grant to help operators keep their fares lower and service levels higher.
"We recently announced an additional £220 million to deliver a bus revolution to boost services and make journeys greener, easier and more reliable.”
But the Campaign for Better Transport said that central government spending on bus services has reduced by £234 million in real terms over the last ten years, with a £163 million fall in local authority spending.
It has called for a “long-term fund” to be allocated into revitalising bus services and helping reduce fares for students and the elderly.
Darren Shirley, who heads the campaign group, said that continual funding cuts come with “consequences”.
Shirley said: "It leads to isolation and social exclusion and hinders access to employment, education and training as people find it more difficult and costly to travel."
The study shows that 60 per cent of journeys made on public transport in Great Britain are via bus, with 4.8 billion fares paid each year. However, the campaign group warns that the number of journeys taken by bus has been in decline for some time, with passenger numbers down by 6.6 per cent over the last ten years.