UK is spending £3B to completely overhaul its bus system


This article was originally published by Christopher Carey on Today’s cities, the leading information platform on urban mobility and innovation, reaching an international audience of city leaders. For the latest updates, follow Cities Today on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Youtube, or subscribe to Cities Today News.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced plans to invest £ 3 billion ($ 4.18 billion) in bus services across England, including the deployment of 4,000 new British-built electric or hydrogen buses.

As part of this investment, the government has pledged to introduce hundreds of kilometers of new bus lanes, offer more weekend and evening services, and introduce contactless payment on all buses.

Price caps on more frequent tickets and services are also promised in what the Department of Transport (DfT) describes as “the bus industry’s most ambitious upheaval in a generation”

Get on and go services

Commenting on the announcement, UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “Buses are the preferred mode of transport in this country. They help us get to school, GP or shops – but services across England are spotty and frankly not good enough.

“The quality of the bus service you receive shouldn’t depend on where you live. Everyone deserves access to cheap, reliable and fast bus rides.

“The strategy we are unveiling today will completely overhaul services, ensuring that we can rebuild better after the pandemic. The key to success is the new deal it offers to boards – we will provide unprecedented funding, but we need boards to work closely with operators and government to develop the services of the future.

The DfT said it expected local authorities and operators to work together to provide bus services so frequent that passengers could simply “show up and go” – no longer needing to rely on a timetable. traditional or wait more than a few minutes.

Laura Shoaf, President of the Urban Transport Group and Managing Director of Transport for the West Midlands (TfWM), welcomed the announcement, saying the strategy had a “positive and ambitious” vision for the future.

“Before the pandemic, the use of buses and bus networks were in decline and fares were increasing – the additional funding promised by the government is therefore welcome,” Shoaf said.

“There can be no green and fair recovery from the pandemic without better bus services, so the bus will continue to need a greater share of overall transport spending and for this funding to be sustained over the long term.” , she added.


The plan has, however, been criticized by unions and the opposition Labor Party, which have highlighted the drop in passenger numbers and previous cuts to services.

“This so-called strategy offers nothing to those looking for a bold vision to reverse the millions of miles of lost bus routes across the country,” Labor ghost bus minister Sam Tarry said.

“People will wonder when they return to work whether there will be enough affordable and regular buses for their daily commute.”

“The government must do more to protect this crucial sector – especially since we have already seen more than 1,000 jobs lost in the bus and coach manufacturing sector alone since the start of the pandemic,” he said. added Tarry.


Outside of London, England’s city bus services are run by various private companies, with several companies operating in some cities.

This means that passengers can often end up paying multiple fares if they have to change buses during a trip.

As part of the Transport for London (TfL) network, users pay a flat rate of £ 1.50 which covers all bus journeys made in an hour, meaning passengers can change multiple times without incurring additional charges. .

Some cities, including Manchester, have launched the idea of ​​introducing the bus franchise throughout the city area, which would abolish the current private system.

A consultation led by Ipsos Mori on the plans held between December 2020 and January this year collected more than 12,500 responses, 82% of which were in favor of a franchise model, according to the Greater Manchester Combined Authority.

Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham is expected to consider continuing the franchise plan over the next few weeks, and if approved, the model could be rolled out in three phases with a sub-area of ​​the city region introduced each year between 2023 and 2025..

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Published March 31, 2021 – 14:00 UTC


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