Rural Mobility and Supported Bus Services Funds

Transport – in the House of Commons on 18th May 2020.

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Photo of Daniel Zeichner Daniel Zeichner Shadow Minister (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)

How many applications have been made to the (a) rural mobility fund and (b) supported bus services fund since February 2020.

Photo of Jane Hunt Jane Hunt Conservative, Loughborough

What support his Department is providing to help ensure that bus services continue to operate during the covid-19 outbreak.

Photo of Rachel Maclean Rachel Maclean Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)

The Government are providing significant funding for the bus industry at this time. Our covid-19 funding package for England’s buses totals £397 million. As part of this, local authorities have access to a £30 million supported bus services fund. To date, 46 bids have been received. No bids have yet been received for the rural mobility fund because the deadline is 4 June.

Photo of Daniel Zeichner Daniel Zeichner Shadow Minister (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)

Of course, hydrogen-powered buses have a much longer range, making them more suitable for rural routes and rural areas, and we have some of the leading hydrogen-powered bus manufacturers in the world. The Government have introduced the all-electric bus town scheme. Where is the equivalent for hydrogen?

Photo of Rachel Maclean Rachel Maclean Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)

The hon. Gentleman is right to say that we are focusing on new all-electric bus towns, which is an exciting part of the money that the Prime Minister has announced to support buses up and down the country, but it is not right to say that we are not focusing on hydrogen buses. We have actually allocated £4.36 million to hydrogen buses and supporting infrastructure.

Photo of Jane Hunt Jane Hunt Conservative, Loughborough

The Government have recently published the safer transport guidance for operators, which is very welcome indeed, but I wonder whether the Minister could set out what steps are being taken to ensure the financial viability of bus services while maintaining social distancing.

Photo of Rachel Maclean Rachel Maclean Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)

I can tell my hon. Friend that we are working urgently to provide further support to bus operators so that they can run service provision as people return to work and at the same time observe social distancing.