To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what recent steps the Government has taken to improve bus services in England.
The Local Transport Bill, currently before Parliament, contains measures to improve local bus services. These include provisions that will support stronger partnership working between local authorities and bus operators, make quality contracts schemes a more realistic option for local authorities where they are in the public interest, give passengers a stronger voice by establishing a statutory bus passenger 'champion', and help to improve bus punctuality.
We are also currently considering changes to bus subsidies—in particular the Bus Service Operators Grant (BSOG)—bringing them more in line with our environmental objectives and improving services for passengers.
And we have announced a further £25 million of funding for a new Kickstart competition. The funding will contribute to the Department for Transport's overall objectives of increasing bus patronage, improving accessibility to services and developing bus services as an alternative to car use. Over the coming months, we will be engaging with key stakeholders on the details of the scheme in preparation for the competition to begin in early 2009.