Public transport boost from government

£2 million for on-demand rural bus services in the West Midlands.

Projects to improve bus services in rural areas of the West Midlands are set to benefit from over £2 million, Transport Minister Baroness Vere has announced today, as the government unveils the most ambitious shake-up of the bus sector in a generation.

The investment is part of a £20 million fund to support innovative on-demand services, such as minibuses that can be booked via an app, which are able to get closer to where people live in rural and suburban areas, and at a time convenient for them.

The allocations from the Rural Mobility Fund come as the UK Government launches its new National Bus Strategy, backed by £3 billion of investment, which will see passengers across England benefiting from more frequent, more reliable, easier to use and understand, better coordinated and cheaper bus services.  

The changes include: 

– Simpler bus fares with daily price caps, so people can use the bus as many times a day as they need without facing mounting costs 
– More services in the evenings and at the weekends 
– Integrated services and ticketing across all transport modes, so people can easily move from bus to train  
– All buses to accept contactless payments 

The funding being allocated will enable local authorities to trial innovative projects in rural and suburban areas, where traditional timetabled services often aren’t practical. 

Staffordshire County Council will receive £1,038,09 to link demand-responsive minibuses to the main fixed-route bus services in Staffordshire, guaranteeing good connections between the towns of Leek, Ashbourne and Buxton. This would help people in the area who don’t drive, especially older people, access medical appointments, work and education – combatting isolation and loneliness.

Warwickshire County Council is set to receive £1,020,000 to fund around four vehicles, transporting up to 70,000 passengers every year. The project would benefit people living in the communities around Kenilworth and in rural Warwick, where there are currently infrequent bus services and a lack of stops. The service, which is planned to run from 7am-7pm Monday to Saturday, would help people get to work – including to large businesses in the area such as Volvo and IBM.

Transport Minister, Baroness Vere, said: “Buses are the life-blood of our communities. They get us to work, to school and to see friends and family. Put simply, they help us make the little everyday journeys that make up our lives.

“In places where people are more dispersed, and the distance they need to travel is longer, it can be harder for traditional, timetabled bus services to truly meet their needs.

“The funding we are announcing today will give local authorities the opportunity to trial services that work better for communities – such as wheelchair-accessible minibuses that can be booked on an app on request. The schemes will help people who’ve had limited transport links for too long get to where they need to be.”