Access to Bus Services: Cumbria

Transport – in the House of Commons on 28th January 2021.

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Photo of Neil Hudson Neil Hudson Conservative, Penrith and The Border

What steps his Department is taking to improve access to bus services in rural areas in Cumbria.

Photo of Robert Courts Robert Courts Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)

We are developing a national bus strategy for England. Cumbria is participating in phase 2 of the rural mobility fund.

Photo of Neil Hudson Neil Hudson Conservative, Penrith and The Border

Bus services offer a vital lifeline for people in rural communities such as Penrith and The Border, and the importance of this connectivity has been brought into sharp relief in the pandemic. In 2014, Cumbria County Council opted to stop using central Government funds to subsidise commercial bus services, meaning some routes were not viable for operators, leading to a reduction in provision. Does my hon. Friend agree that now is the time for the council to revisit that decision and use available funds to support rural bus routes to allow people to go about their lives, reconnect and improve their health and welfare?

Photo of Robert Courts Robert Courts Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)

We recognise the importance of public transport for the sustainability and the independence of communities, particularly in rural areas like Cumbria, which is why we are providing a £20 million rural mobility fund to support demand-responsive services in rural and suburban areas. I am pleased to say that thanks to my hon. Friend’s support, Cumbria County Council was successful in phase 1 and has been invited to participate in phase 2.