Department for Transport announce new bus funding schemes in England
Earlier this month the UK Government’s Bus Strategy for England was re-announced and launched calls for bids from local authorities for various funding pots.
Much media activity focussed on the proposals to create the first all-electric bus town but our eyes were drawn to two funds that may be of interest to members delivering community transport services in England and local authorities that are also CTA members.
The first was the £20m rural mobility fund to trial on-demand bus services in rural or suburban areas. The announcement said they were interested in a community-based, bottom-up approach, which we thought would be good for CT with its long story of success in providing demand-responsive services.
The specification says the proposed solution should make it distinct from dial-a-ride and community transport services. We think this means they want the fund to focus on new developments and not sustain existing services as they are, but that should not preclude community transport from being involved. This might mean getting support to expand your services if that appeals to you.
Bids must come from local authorities, who know about your strengths and skills more than most, so we would encourage you to see if there opportunities to be involved.
Their Expressions of Interest need to be in by 30 April 2020 so there is still a good chunk of time left to get involved.
The second is the Supported Bus Services Fund where £30 million is available to selected local authorities in England for 2020/21. This aims to improve current bus services, or restore lost services where needed. If you provide scheduled services using a Section 22 Permit or O-license in one of the selected local authorities, this may be of interest.
The first thing you need to do is check if your local authority has been allocated funding and how much, which you can find out here. We know some local authorities are publicly calling for proposals. See this example here from North Yorkshire.
This one has a deadline of 13 March 2020.
We recognise these programmes won’t be for everyone and our aim very much remains to push for new national investment specifically aimed at supporting the CT sector.
To help with this there a couple of things you can help with:
If you are going to pursue either of these opportunities with your local authority, or are already engaged, we’d appreciate hearing how you have got on.
More generally, we would value any feedback you have on whether these two programmes are sufficiently open to CT involvement or how they could be made so.
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