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Bus Services: Rural Areas

Question for Department for Transport

UIN 117982, tabled on 6 January 2023

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, whether his Department has taken recent steps to help ensure that there is adequate bus service provision in rural areas.

Answered on

11 January 2023

The Government recognises the importance of transport provision in rural areas. England’s long-term National Bus Strategy, “Bus Back Better”, was published in March 2021, setting out a bold vision for bus services across the country.

The Strategy asked all English Local Transport Authorities (LTAs) outside London to publish Bus Service Improvement Plans (BSIPs). It asked for BSIPs to be developed in collaboration with local bus operators and cover the LTA’s full area, all local bus services within it, and the differing needs of any parts of that area, such as rural elements. The Strategy also encouraged new forms of bus provision in areas that are currently not adequately served by conventional timetabled buses.

To support Local Transport Authorities to improve bus services in their areas, we are providing over £1 billion of new money to make bus services more frequent, more reliable, easier to understand and use, better co-ordinated and cheaper. We are also providing practical assistance, including allocating a named Relationship Manager to all LTAs.

Our £20 million Rural Mobility Fund is supporting 17 innovative, demand-led minibus trials in rural and suburban areas across 15 local authorities in England. The experience gained from these pilots will help LTAs better understand how Demand Responsive Transport might best operate.

In addition, the Government is also providing £60 million to help bus operators cap single fares at £2 on services in England outside London from 1 January to 31 March 2023. Over 130 operators covering more than 4,600 routes throughout England are participating in the scheme, including in rural areas, which will help increase patronage on buses and help millions save on their regular travel costs.

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