Cross-party West of England support for Metro Mayor’s call for more government cash for buses

Dan Norris

The battle to improve the West of England’s bus services has been boosted by cross-party support for the Metro Mayor’s call for more government cash.

A letter from Metro Mayor Dan Norris to Baroness Vere, the minister in charge of buses, has received local Lib Dem and Tory MP backing.

It explains that the sudden two-thirds reduction in funding for West of England services on 31st August has led to local bus companies cutting some routes this month, and warns that without a change in direction more bus routes could be under threat.

The latest round of government support for buses is based on an assumption that passenger numbers have recovered to 80 per cent of pre-pandemic levels. However, while passenger numbers are on the up, currently the buses are running only 63 per cent.

The joint letter, which is signed by Labour Metro Mayor Dan Norris, Chris Skidmore MP (Con, Kingswood), Jack Lopresti MP (Con, Filton & Bradley Stoke), Wera Hobhouse MP (Lib Dem, Bath), and Bristol Labour MPs Thangam Debbonaire, Darren Jones, Kerry McCarthy and Karin Smyth, argues for “a more tapered reduction” in funding support.

Metro Mayor Dan Norris said: “MPs of all parties rightly recognise that whilst West of England bus passenger numbers are recovering, government support is falling off a cliff edge.

“This is exactly the opposite of what is needed if we are to encourage people to keep using public transport and help meet our ambitious net zero targets.

“We need government money to head west from London to benefit communities which depend on bus services to get to work and study, to go shopping, and to enjoy a social life. These aren’t luxuries: they are bread-and-butter needs for many local people.”

Among the services affected is the 18 Kingswood to Bath bus service which was axed at very short notice. Stories of how the axing of the service is impacting people have been emerging as people are encouraged to join the campaign to get the service reinstated. The Week In has launched a petition to complement the one started by MP Chris Skidmore and councillors Erica Williams and Paul Hughes, who represent the Oldland Common & Bitton ward on South Gloucestershire Council. Find out more in this week’s edition.

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