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Bus Service Improvement Plans

Volume 708: debated on Thursday 3 February 2022

19. What recent assessment he has made of the adequacy of funding for bus service improvement plans. (905418)

At the Budget, we announced £1.2 billion of new dedicated funding for bus transformation deals. We will provide details of indicative allocations in due course.

Bus companies have suffered financially during the pandemic, and this cost is being felt by customers in downgraded services. Stagecoach has had to replace its coaches from Bedford to Cambridge with double-decker buses with no toilet facilities. This leaves older people, sometimes travelling to access medical treatment, without access to a toilet for 90 minutes. When will the Government give bus companies the investment they need to improve services?

Well, we are doing that at the moment. There is £1.2 billion of new funding, delivering improvements in bus services, fares and infrastructure in England outside London, and that is just part of over £3 billion of new spend on buses in the course of this Parliament.

I was delighted to see in the levelling-up White Paper yesterday that, thanks to this Conservative Government working with Conservative-led Stoke-on-Trent City Council and three Conservative Stoke-on-Trent Members of Parliament, we are going to receive a multimillion-pound settlement for bussing back better in our great city to make sure that we are better connected. Part of the bid does contain some funding for roads, particularly for widening the Waterloo Road, which does suffer from congestion, so will the Minister meet me and Stoke-on-Trent MPs to discuss why it is vital that this is funded?

I congratulate my hon. Friend on the leadership he has provided on improving the roads and the buses in Stoke in conjunction with his Conservative colleagues, and I know that the Buses Minister will be delighted to meet him to discuss that further.

In the north-east, we have an ambitious bus service improvement plan, but before we get there we have a crisis in our bus services as a result of covid-19. Can the Minister say what action he will take to prevent our bus services from being reduced as a result of the cliff edge in funding in March?

As I have outlined, over £3 billion of new spend on buses is coming along during the course of this Parliament. The hon. Member is quite right to draw attention to the bus service improvement plans, and we will be able to provide some information on indicative allocations for that by the end of February.

Buses are vital for many of my North West Durham constituents, but to put it simply, at the moment there are not enough of them and they are prohibitively expensive, especially for single-fare journeys. Will the Minister look closely at our bus back better strategy for the north-east to give us the funding and the buses we need for our communities?

I know that the Buses Minister will be delighted to look at that particular strategy in the context of the overall funding the Government are providing.