- Passengers across Burnley and Padiham will benefit from a new National Bus Strategy, which will deliver the most ambitious reform to the sector in generations.
- Lancashire County Council will need to work in partnership with operators on ambitious new Bus Service Improvement Plans for the benefit of passengers to be eligible for future funding.
- Plan paves the way for cheaper, quicker and more reliable bus services across England as the Conservative Government continues its levelling-up agenda.
Burnley MP Antony Higginbotham has welcomed the Conservative Government’s announcement of a revolutionary new bus strategy, backed by £3 billion of investment, that will see passengers across Burnley and Padiham benefiting from more frequent, more reliable, easier to use and cheaper bus services.
The strategy will require Lancashire County Council to work in partnership with bus operators who work across the county to improve services for passengers in order to be eligible for funding in future.
The council, and operators, will be expected to provide:
- Simpler single bus fares with daily price caps, so people can use the bus as many times a day as they need without facing mounting costs, encouraging greater use for commuting.
- More services in the evenings and at the weekends to support those who work shifts as well as the evening economy.
- Integrated services and ticketing across all transport modes in the area, so people can easily move from bus to train, creating a properly integrated public transport network.
- Easy to access information, including online, so that services are simple to use and journey's can be planned in advance.
- All buses to accept contactless payments.
Lancashire County Council will also need to franchise services, as is the case in London, or establish statutory partnerships with operators – ensuring that they work in collaboration for the benefit of passengers. They will also be required to publish an improvement plan.
Such improvements will be underpinned by fundamental reforms to the sector, and will see operators need to work with their local councils on targets for improving passenger numbers, reliability and passenger satisfaction, to be eligible for future government funding.
Only councils and operators who work to meet these requirements will continue to receive the around £100 million per month emergency Covid funding for the sector, or any new sources of funding from the £3 billion investment.
Levelling up services across the country will help ensure more people turn to the bus, rather than the car, as the country builds back better and greener from the pandemic.
Commenting, local MP Antony Higginbotham said:
When we think of going to work, or heading to the town centre, our natural go-to is to jump in the car but a big part of that is because bus services aren't at the right time or frequency, or you can never be sure if you've missed it.
This strategy - backed by £3 billion of Government investment - is about changing that, creating a service that delivers for the people who use or want to use buses. Delivering simpler fares, more reliable services, and better connections.
And the reason this is important is because good bus services can have a transformational role, particularly in places like Burnley and Padiham. They are more than just getting from A to B – they’re the key to accessing skilled jobs and opportunities, boosting local businesses and supporting economic growth.
At the last general election, I stood on a manifesto that promised to level up and improve transport connections in our area. This boost to our local bus services, on top of the amazing work being done by the Burnley Bus Company to modernise their fleets, will help to deliver on that promise.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said:
Buses are lifelines and liberators, connecting people to jobs they couldn't otherwise take, driving pensioners and young people to see their friends, sustaining town centres and protecting the environment.
As we build back from the pandemic, better buses will be one of our first acts of levelling-up.
Just as they did in London, our reforms will make buses the transport of choice, reducing the number of car journeys and improving quality of life for millions.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said:
Buses are this country’s favourite way of getting around. They help us get to school, to the GP, or to the shops – but services across England are patchy, and it’s frankly not good enough.
The quality of bus service you receive shouldn’t be dependent on where you live. Everyone deserves to have access to cheap, reliable and quick bus journeys.
The strategy I’m proud to unveil today will completely overhaul services, ensuring we build back better from the pandemic. Key to it is the new deal it offers to councils – we will provide unprecedented funding, but we need councils to work in partnership with operators, and the Government, to develop the services of the future.