New report calls for 'Connectivity Fund' to reverse cuts in bus funding

Investing in bus services is key to achieving a wide range of policy objectives across Government, says a new report published by the Urban Transport Group.

19 March 2019

The cross-sector benefits of backing the bus report, which calls for a new Connectivity Fund to reverse significant cuts in bus funding, uses three West Yorkshire case studies as examples of good work in the sector.

Government policy objectives

The report highlights the key role played by bus services in achieving 29 of the government's policy objectives in 12 of 25 Whitehall departments. The report says that the way in which buses are funded is too complex. There is no oversight of the overall impact that various funding streams, from different Government departments have on services, it concludes.

Among the case studies in the report showing positive work are the development, by the Combined Authority and the City Council, of the Elland Road and Temple Green park and ride facilities in Leeds. Both served by ultra-low impact buses, the two sites have been use by over 2,000,000 people, 65% of whom previously travelled to work by car.


Safe havens at bus stations

Another positive example is the Combined Authority's work with the Dementia Action Alliance to create a safe haven at its bus stations for people with dementia. This work has included running dementia awareness sessions for staff in our West Yorkshire Metro bus stations.

Residential MCards which, through property companies, the Combined Authority offers people moving into some new housing developments are also cited in the report. Residential MetroCard, provide the new householders with a year's free West Yorkshire bus and rail travel, followed by a 25% discount on a bus and rail MCard in the second year and 10% in the third year. This helps reduce the effect of additional traffic being generated by a new housing development.


West Yorkshire Bus Alliance

The report comes in the same week as the official launch of the West Yorkshire Bus Alliance, which sees the Combined Authority bus operators and district councils working together to put customers at the heart of services.

Launching the Alliance on Monday, Cllr Kim Groves Chair of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority Transport Committee said: "With nearly three million people using them to travel to and from work in West Yorkshire each week, buses do the heavy lifting when it comes to supporting the local economy."

"The county's 1,000-strong bus fleet carries over four times as many people as local trains each year. It is vital, therefore that we use this Alliance to ensure the services are attractive not only for existing users but to potential new users who currently travel by car as well as to young people who are the passengers of tomorrow."

Find out more about the West Yorkshire Bus Alliance


Connectivity Fund

The new Urban Transport Group report calls for a new Connectivity Fund. The new Fund would bring together existing bus funding (known as the Bus Service Operators Grant or BSOG) with funding from other Government departments into a significantly enhanced and ring-fenced pot for local government to support bus services.

Mick Noone, Director of Integrated Transport at Merseytravel and Urban Transport Group's lead Board member for bus, said: "The bus is not just a mode of transport, it is an enabler for millions of people across the country to access jobs, education and social opportunities, in a way that positively contributes to the economy, public health and the environment."

"The forthcoming Spending Review is expected to take a fresh look at how the Government provides support for bus services. We hope this report will be useful to the Treasury in taking a wider view of the considerable benefits which high quality bus services bring, as well as setting out the case for a simplified and enhanced funding regime which better recognises these cross-Whitehall benefits."