In September 2008 my predecessor, the right hon. Member for Bolton West, (Ruth Kelly), announced that £25 million had been set aside for a second round of Kickstart bus funding. I am now pleased to confirm that the competition is launched today, and that we are now welcoming bids for funding for new and enhanced bus services from local authorities and their partners.
Kickstart is targeted at schemes that have the potential to become successful but which initially might be more marginal in commercial terms and require some financial help to start them off, or which are currently marginal schemes that with some extra support could be made more successful.
Through Kickstart, we are looking to pump-prime bus services which will contribute to the Department’s overall objectives of increasing bus patronage, and in particular developing bus services as an alternative to car use, bringing with it a reduction in congestion and benefits to the environment. It is also about improving accessibility and social inclusion. This round will also focus on schemes which make use of the new bus powers in the Local Transport Act 2008. We hope this will allow us to build up good practice on the use of these powers to promulgate to other local authorities and operators.
The application form and guidance are today being placed on the Department’s website and in the House Libraries. We will also email these documents to the key bodies which represent local authorities and bus operators later today.
Applications for funding will be accepted through to 3 July 2009, and I anticipate that an announcement of the successful schemes will be made in autumn 2009.