Dozens of Leeds bus services given lifeline as government announce recovery grant u-turn
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The funding package, announced yesterday (August 19), will cover six months from October 2022 to March 2023, and builds on almost two years of support.
It comes just days after Northern Mayors united in calls to extend the grant past its October expiration date to help protect passengers during the cost-of-living crisis.
Following the announcement, Tracy Brabin, Mayor of West Yorkshire, said:
“We’ve been clear that government inaction would have decimated vital bus services and pushed people onto more expensive forms of transport, such as taxis, during the cost-of-living crisis - a time they can afford it least.
“This shows how mayors can be powerful voices to advocate for their region – and I’m delighted that my colleagues across the North joined my push for action. We can be stronger together than the sum of our parts."
The additional funding will aim to protect bus services and routes, which are particularly important to people.
The Government has also pledged to invest £3bn in bus services by 2025, including over £1bn to improve fares, services and infrastructure, and a further £525 million for zero emission buses.
The move by government has however been branded a ‘sticking plaster’ by TUC’s Better Buses Campaigner in Yorkshire Gareth Forest.
"We need more than temporary sticking plasters that delay devastating cuts by six months at a time. West Yorkshire’ bus services are being cut to the bone," he said.
“We’ve seen the big bus companies announce cuts to routes and frequencies repeatedly over the last 18 months whilst the government has continued to hand out subsidies.
"Continuing to fund the status quo does nothing to change that.”
Bus operators will now have to give almost two months notice of service changes, which offers passengers added confidence in the network.
"Now I am cracking on with rolling out cheaper bus fares across the region next month, including a £2 cap on journeys – to help ease the burden on household budgets.” Mayor Brabin added.