A third of bus services are at imminent risk of being cut it has been warned, as Labour calls on the government to provide certainty in the face of a looming crisis for passengers.
In a letter to the Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, Labour’s Louise Haigh warns that the cliff-edge when funding ends on 6 April could “be devastating for the millions who depend on buses”.
She warns the failure to act risks slashing services as passenger numbers begin to recover and “locking in declining services for years to come”.
The call comes as bus operators nationwide begin to announce a wave of service cuts in anticipation of the 6 April deadline, with the six-week notice period of bus route closures due by Wednesday 23rd February without clarity from Ministers.
The Shadow Transport Secretary has urged the government to:
- Act on the immediate crisis – by giving local leaders clarity on the status of emergency funding due to expire on April 6th.
- Come clean on wider long-term funding cut for the Bus Back Better strategy – with deep cuts buried in the levelling-up white paper leaving the Prime Minister’s pledge to “transform” bus services in tatters.
The Conservatives recently indicated they had slashed funding for their flagship Bus Back Better strategy by well over half to £1.2bn, meaning many areas will miss out altogether.
Mayors, including the Conservative Andy Street, have urged the government to act to avoid deep cuts warning “far from seeing a transformation of bus services there is a risk that some of our communities face losing their bus services with all the longer term social, environmental and economic costs which that entails.”
Shadow Secretary of State for Transport, Louise Haigh MP said:
“The Tories promised ‘transformational’ investment in bus services, but they’re handing communities a crisis.
“These cuts would be devastating for the millions of passengers who depend on buses, and would represent a straightforward betrayal of the promises made to communities.
“Local communities need certainty in the face of this looming bus crisis, or they risk declining services being locked in for years to come.
“And the government must come clean on the wider cuts to funding they promised to every corner of the country to improve shockingly bad bus services.”