Public Transport: Rural Areas

Department for Transport written question – answered at on 24 October 2023.

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Photo of Luke Evans Luke Evans Conservative, Bosworth

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what recent steps he has taken to (a) implement the Future of Transport Rural Strategy and (b) consult on reforming grant funding for bus operators.

Photo of Richard Holden Richard Holden Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)

The Department for Transport published its ‘Future of Transport: supporting rural transport innovation’ guidance in early October, and will now work to implement its pledges, such as working closer with local leadership to help deploy and scale innovative new technologies in rural communities. As part of this guide, the Department is making up to £3 million of funding available for rural innovation. This will help explore innovative solutions to long-standing issues, such as loneliness and isolation, poor access to services and economically challenging business cases for rural transport services.

The Government committed to reforming the Bus Service Operator Grant (BSOG) in the National Bus Strategy and intends to publish a consultation later this year. The consultation will seek views from bus operators and local authorities on several measures to modernise and future-proof the BSOG. We intend to include proposals for distance-based payments that may help rural operators and simplify the administration of the grant.

Our support for buses includes community transport too. We have just announced that the Government will continue to provide increased financial support to these community transport operators to help protect these key services by uplifting their bus service operator grant claims by 60%. This significant support will be available to operators for claims from 1 July 2023 to the end of March 2025.

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