Spalding campaigner calls for Lincolnshire to get a fairer share of funding for bus services
Campaigners say it’s time south Lincolnshire got a fairer share of funding for bus services – and argue we have to plan now for the future.
Government figures show residents here get about £6.42 per head spent on buses – compared to £10.68 in North Yorkshire and closer to £50 in London.
Last month the Government published its ‘Bus Back Better’ national strategy for the future of bus services – following on from a pledge of £3billion to ‘level up’ buses across England so that services reach ‘London standards’.
Although funding in Lincolnshire has risen in recent years – the county gets £693,000 less for buses than in 2010/11, the high point for funding since 2000.
Spalding and Peterborough Transport Forum chairman George Scott says this – alongside 40%-plus funding cuts for our county and district councils – is a trend that needs to be reversed.
He said: “I would like to see the bus services funded more. We have lost a lot of money in our area.
“We don’t get a lot compared to other areas – but we don’t get a lot here compared to Lincoln either. We have got things to offer here too.”
Mr Scott said the provision of better bus services is important if our local high streets are to survive – and if we’re to cope with new housing projects.
He said: “People need transport to be able to get to the shops.
“Shops are closing, not opening. We need to see an economic environment that supports them.”
He added: “We need organisations to come forward now – not later – to start planning for the future.
“We need to do some forward planning. We need to get people together to give their ideas – this is their town and their area.”
The Government’s Bus Back Better document explores the challenge facing rural services. It states: “In rural areas, more dispersed, lower density populations make it challenging to deliver widespread timetabled services run by traditional buses. Services often take long and indirect routes, to service as many people as possible, but they become an unattractive alternative for passengers with access to a car.
“Services invariably need funding from LTAs (local transport authorities) and, when money is tight, funding for bus services is deprioritised. Services get cut, and people are even more likely to buy a car, reducing the potential demand for buses.
“If we are to meet our legal obligation to deliver Net Zero carbon emissions and have thriving communities, we have to reverse these cycles.”
By October this year, all local transport authorities need to publish a ‘Bus Service Improvement Plan’, but by June those bodies will need to have started to set up ‘Enhanced Partnerships’ with bus operators.
The Government wants to invest in greener buses and is calling for more frequent services, simpler, cheaper fares and a network that is easy to understand and use.
Lincolnshire County Council says it is in the ‘early stages’ of putting together a bus strategy as part of its transport plan for the county. It is said to be waiting on more information from the Department for Transport about the detail of the Bus Back Better strategy.