The petition of residents of the constituency of Stone in Staffordshire,
Declares that the No. 31 bus service to Cheadle from Hanley should not be withdrawn.
The petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Government to ensure that the No.31 bus service to Cheadle from Hanley is not withdrawn.
And the petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Sir William Cash, Official Report, 15 March 2017; Vol. 623, c. 459.]
Observations from the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport (Andrew Jones):
I recognise the importance of public transport for both the sustainability and independence of communities, and its valuable role in preventing isolation.
Three-quarters of bus services outside London are provided on a commercial basis by private operators and decisions on service provision are mainly a matter for the operator concerned. However, where there is not enough demand for a bus route to be commercially viable in its own right, all local authorities in England have powers to subsidise bus services which they consider socially necessary.
The Government provide around £200 million to bus operators in England via Bus Service Operators Grant (BSOG), around £40 million of which goes direct to the local authorities who tender those services.
It is also worth noting that the Bus Services Bill, currently progressing through Parliament, will provide local authorities with new tools to improve bus services. This includes future powers to request commercial information from bus operators who withdraw, or reduce significantly, local bus services.
I therefore strongly encourage bus operators and local authorities to work together, in consultation with local communities, to identify the right transport solutions that meet the economic and environmental challenges faced in the area and deliver the greatest benefits for residents.