Worcester Labour Councillor Jenny Barnes has called for bus funding for the country to be protected, ahead of a cliff-edge deadline, warning of the “targeted lockdown” that will follow unless ministers preserve current grants.

The Westminster government is planning to terminate its Bus Recovery Grant at the end of March. If the BRG is not extended before the 17th of February, the country’s private operators have indicated they will likely commit to significant reductions in the number of routes, the frequency of buses, and evening and weekend services, starting in April.

In a letter to Ministers, Councillor Barnes warned –
“The March cliff-edge in services would devastate thousands of communities. Workers will lose their jobs. Our children and young people will be cut off from educational and training opportunities. All of us will be further isolated from essential public services, including our overstretched GP surgeries, dental practices, and hospitals. This will be nothing short of a targeted lockdown of bus users.

Further service reductions also put the future of public transport at risk. They risk pushing bus networks into a self-perpetuating spiral of decline. Shrunken services attract fewer passengers. Fare revenue decreases. Operators increase prices and cut more routes.”

Citing Britain’s lacklustre performance on public transport compared to other developed countries,
Councillor Barnes added –
“The cost-of-living crisis and the climate crisis require a large increase in bus use. Indeed, countless
other countries have made increasing bus use central to their responses to the cost-of-living crisis,
including measures to expand bus services and reduce fares. The current plan to cut Government
support for buses leaves the UK a complete outlier.

As an immediate first step, we call on you to cancel your planned bus funding cuts in March. Instead,
we need to move beyond short-term, cliff-edge funding. We need to end the relentless decline of the

In short, we need a new deal for buses, with more powers and funding devolved to our communities
to help us grow bus use with an extensive, reliable, and affordable service run in the public interest.”

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