Urgent action needed to rescue bus services from “funding cliff-edge”

West Yorkshire leaders have slammed the Government for "dithering” while the region’s bus services face a “cliff-edge” at the end of March.

10 February 2023

The region's transport committee has today (Friday 10th February) ramped up the pressure on ministers and urged that action be taken to protect these vital links, which communities rely on.

This follows a letter from West Yorkshire Mayor Tracy Brabin to the Department for Transport earlier this week calling for clarity around the government’s bus recovery grant.

The government grant, designed to help bus operators and Local Transport Authorities mitigate the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on bus use, is set to end next month. But bus operators have warned that there could be drastic cuts to local services as a result because passenger numbers haven’t reached pre-pandemic levels yet.

A meeting of West Yorkshire Combined Authority’s Transport Committee this week heard how potentially dozens of bus services across the region could be either reduced or scrapped altogether, if the government fails to extend its bus recovery fund scheme.

A paper presented to the committee warns that bus operators are working on the assumption that no extension to funding will be available, which means they could: 

  • Remove 7 services in full 
  • Withdraw part of the route of 4 services
  • 16 services where they would reduce frequency 
  • 15 services where they would remove journeys at certain times of the day or week 

Chair of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority’s Transport Committee, Councillor Susan Hinchcliffe said:

“The services people rely on are facing a funding cliff-edge.

“This dithering from Government means bus companies cannot commit to delivering the services everybody relies on from the end of next month.  Passengers need to know that their bus to get to work is still going to be there beyond the end of March. These services are desperately needed across West Yorkshire.

“We want to encourage people to use buses, but how can we do that when funding from Government is piecemeal, hand to mouth and month by month.  We can’t have services being cut left, right and centre.”

 Councillor Hinchcliffe discussed bus services at a meeting of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority’s transport committee on Friday, February 10.


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West Yorkshire Combined Authority was told the Government intends to end the Bus Recovery Grant in March, with no indication that more revenue support will be provided beyond next month.  

The Mayor of West Yorkshire and other Metro Mayors are urging the Secretary of State to provide long term funding to Local Transport Authorities and bus companies, and will continue to press on that over the course of the next few days and weeks.  

Other Metro Mayors to sign the letter include Mayor of North of Tyne Jamie Driscoll; Mayor of Liverpool City Region Steve Rotherham; Mayor of West of England Dan Norris; Mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Nic Johnson and Mayor of South Yorkshire Oliver Coppard.

If the funding is not forthcoming, bus operators in West Yorkshire have advised that they will withdraw services from 2 April 2023, meaning that some communities risk losing their bus services from April.  

Discussions with bus operators continue, however it would appear that there are 7 services at risk of withdrawal and a further 35 services which would be reduced.

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