Government confirms nearly £7bn to overhaul and level-up major local transport schemes

Thirty-one counties, city regions and unitary authorities have been chosen for funding to level up their local bus services in the latest awards from the Government’s bus transformation programme.

Key points

  • Cheaper and better buses in £7bn package to level up transport outside London
  • Lower, simpler bus fares to help tackle cost-of-living pressures
  • Major upgrades to local tram, cycling & walking and rail networks will also be funded
  • First fares cuts of up to 45% will start next week

Including earlier awards, just under two thirds of England’s population outside London will benefit from new investment to make their buses more frequent, more reliable, easier to understand and use, cheaper, or greener. Improvements will also include integrated ticketing and more bus lanes to speed up journeys.  

The successful areas have been chosen because of their ambition to repeat the success achieved in London – which drove up bus usage and made the bus a natural choice for everyone, not just those without cars. As the Government stated in last year’s national bus strategy, Bus Back Better, areas not showing sufficient ambition, including for improvements to bus priority, would not be funded.

In the meantime, a further £150m is being provided across England to maintain service levels as patronage continues to recover after the pandemic.

Areas among those set to receive funding today to help deliver on their Bus Service Improvement Plans (full story here) include Portsmouth Stoke-on-Trent, Greater Manchester, West Yorkshire, the West Midlands, Liverpool City Region, North East and North of Tyne Combined Authorities, Reading, Norfolk, Luton, York and Warrington.  

Mayoral combined authorities will also receive money for buses from the £5.7bn City Region Sustainable Transport Settlements, which are also confirmed today.  

Improvements in the pilot area – Cornwall – will start next week, funded by £23.5m from the Government. From Sunday April 10, most bus fares in the county will be slashed, with short hop fares down by 20%, longer journeys costing up to 40% less and some bus passes cut by almost half.    

Passes for unlimited bus travel across Cornwall will cost just £5 per day (down from £9 now) or £20 per week. Town zones offer great value travel for just £2.50 per day or £10 for a week – for commuters travelling five days a week that works out at just £2 a day or £1 per journey. All tickets will be available on all operators’ services, and in the summer contactless tap-on and tap-off payments will be introduced and buses will connect easily with the main rail line at stations across the county.  

“As the Government stated in last year’s national bus strategy, Bus Back Better, areas not showing sufficient ambition, including for improvements to bus priority, would not be funded”

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said:  “Buses are the most popular way of getting around in this country – but for too long people outside of London have had a raw deal.   

“The investment we’re making today to ramp up the bus revolution will drive down fares at a time when people’s finances are tight and help connect communities across England.”  

Today’s funding follows the announcement last week of £200 million for almost 1,000 new electric or hydrogen buses, bringing the total funded in England under this Government to 2000. A further 600 green buses have been funded in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland from the block grant to the devolved administrations, putting the UK on target to meet its commitment of 4000 zero-emission buses.

The Government is today also confirming £5.7bn in funding to level up local bus, tram, rail, walking and cycling networks in England’s eight city regions. The City Region Sustainable Transport Settlements, first announced in the Autumn Statement, give the mayors of our largest cities long-term certainty to plan and deliver transformational improvements to their local transport systems.

The money will help deliver, among other things, a new mass transit network in West Yorkshire, improvements to rail services in the Tees Valley, a flat fare on buses in Greater Manchester and bus rapid transit corridors in the West Midlands. Letters have been sent to the metro mayors outlining the funding.

Today’s announcements, along with the funding of zero emission buses, and the bus elements of the increased City Region Sustainable Transport Settlements, form part of the £3bn for bus transformation announced in 2020. Around £2bn has also been paid to support bus and light rail services during the pandemic. 

The Government is also today confirming that tram and light rail operators across the Midlands and the North will also benefit from over £37m of Government support, with Manchester (£20.5m), the North East Nexus (£7.3m), the West Midlands (£2.7m), Sheffield (£4m) and Nottingham (£3.3m) all receiving a share from the Government’s multi-million-pound pandemic recovery package.

This money will be used to ensure light rail services continue to run and millions of passengers can continue to get around as the country emerges from the pandemic.

Today’s confirmed light rail recovery funding allocations come from the wider £150m package announced by government to support vital bus and light rail services across the country.

Indicative CRSTS allocations for the Mayoral Combined Authorities were announced by the Chancellor in his Budget and Spending Review in October 2021. Following the assessment of their business cases, Government can now confirm their final settlements.

Government will continue to work with MCAs over the coming weeks to agree delivery plans and how performance will be monitored. 

Allocations to Mayoral Combined Authorities and key schemes in each area are as follows:

* Tees Valley Combined Authority – £310m to fund initiatives such as transforming Darlington Station to enable more local rail journeys and providing active travel infrastructure on priority corridors to make cycling and walking the natural choice for short journeys.

* West Yorkshire Combined Authority – £830m to fund schemes such as the development and delivery of a mass transit network across the region.

* South Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority – £570m to fund a range of schemes including renewal of the Sheffield Supertram network connecting Sheffield and Rotherham.

* Greater Manchester Combined Authority – £1.07bn to fund a range of schemes such as new vehicles to extend the Metrolink network and the creation of walking and cycling corridors across the city region as part of the Streets for All programme.

* Liverpool City Region Combined Authority – £710m to fund a range of schemes including a new rail station in Liverpool’s Baltic quarter providing direct access to the city’s growing creative and digital cluster.

* West Midlands Combined Authority – £1.05bn to fund a range of schemes including 50km of new bus priority lanes across the city region doubling the current amount and Ultra Rapid Charging Transit stations to ensure that local journeys are safer, greener, and cleaner.

* West of England Combined Authority – £540m to support the creation of sustainable transport corridors across Bristol and Bath to make bus, cycling, and walking easier and more accessible for all.

Just under two thirds of England’s population outside London will benefit from new investment, including earlier awards of Zebra and CRSTS funding.

Indicative BSIP funding allocations

* Blackburn with Darwen and Lancashire: £34.2m

* Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole: £8.9m

* Brighton and Hove: £27.9m

* Central Bedfordshire: £3.7m

* City of York: £17.4m

* Cornwall (including Isles of Scilly): £13.3m

* Derby City: £7m

* Derbyshire: £47m

* Devon: £14.1m

* East Sussex: £41.4m

* Greater Manchester: £94.8m

* Hertfordshire: £29.7m

* Kent: £35.1m

* Liverpool City Region: £12.3m

* Luton: £19.1m

* Norfolk: £49.6m

* North East and North of Tyne: £163.5m

* North East Lincolnshire: £4.7m

* Nottingham City: £11.4m

* Nottinghamshire: £18.7m

* Oxfordshire: £12.7m

* Portsmouth: £48.3m

* Reading: £26.3m

* Somerset: £11.9m

* Stoke-on-Trent: £31.7m

* Warrington: £16.2m

* West Berkshire: £2.6m

* West Midlands: £87.9m

* West of England and North Somerset: £105.5m

* West Sussex: £17.4m

* West Yorkshire: £70m

Light Rail Allocations

* Manchester: £20.5m

* North East: £7.3m

* Nottingham: £3.3m

* Sheffield: £4m

* West Midlands: £2.7m

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