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Fewer than 40% of areas get BSIP funding: how those left out can still level-up their services

  •   < 1 min read

BSIP awards fell well short of what’s needed and what was promised, but aspirations for better, highly efficient and more reliable bus services shouldn’t be left behind. Authorities are thinking creatively to bring riders back — with even fewer resources.

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📉 Fewer than 40%: it’s the percentage of eligible authorities whose Bus Service Improvement Plans (BSIPs) received funding. And the total funds awarded, £1.1 billion, are less than 40% of the £3 billion as promised just a year ago. The big “winners,” as shown in the chart below, are the familiar names of the large combined authorities — and even these often got significantly less funding than they requested, endangering the ambitious plans that won them the money.

It’s no wonder that transport advocates and local authorities around the country are seriously disappointed. Maintaining the existing transport coverage and service quality is never an easy task, and with myriad ongoing challenges like bus driver shortages, surging petrol prices at the fastest pace and the ever-evolving Omicron variant, less-than-expected funding is an especially difficult blow. 

But the ambitions expressed in authorities’ BSIPs should not be abandoned. Large-scale changes can still be implemented, so long as authorities think creatively. In Milton Keynes, the local council replaced its underperforming subsidised bus network with DRT in April 2021. Nearly a year on, passenger wait times, which approached 60 minutes on many of the old bus networks, have been halved — and the authority expects to save more than £1 million. The new DRT service is integrated with the remaining commercial buses to maximise existing transport resources, offering a model to authorities strapped for cash but still looking to level up their services.

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