The decline in the use of buses in England, House of Lords, 8 March 2018

A diverse range of bus services operates outside England’s major cities, from inter-urban connectors through small networks around towns to relatively long-distance services often providing the only transport link to small communities other than a private car.

Key messages

  • More people travel to work by bus than by any other form of public transport.
  • Outside London bus network funding fell by around half a billion pounds in real terms in the four years after 2010/11. According to the Campaign for Better Transport over 2000 services have been reduced, altered or removed since 2010.
  • Councils have a statutory duty to fund the concessionary travel scheme in England. The scheme provides pensioners and disabled people with free off-peak travel on all local bus services in England.
  • Due to financial reductions, local authorities have been compelled to divert money from discretionary subsidised bus services (such as free peak travel, community transport services and reduced faces), in order to continue supporting the concessionary fares scheme.
  • As a result, council-supported bus services in rural areas have reduced by approximately 40 per cent in the last decade, and in urban areas outside London by just over a quarter. The estimated cost of the statutory scheme to councils last year was approximately £764 million.
  • Due to reductions in revenue support grant funding and without a designated funding stream, we estimate that there is at least a £200 million shortfall for funding the concessionary fares scheme. We have called for the Government to fully fund this statutory duty.
  • We are also calling for the devolution of bus service operator grant (BSOG) to ensure it is targeted at subsidising others unviable services that have significant social impact.

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The decline in the use of buses in England, House of Lords, 8 March 2018