West Yorkshire’s Mayor has welcomed extra Government funding for bus companies, but has warned that it is still not clear what the funding will mean for local services.
This week the Department for Transport announced £150m extra funding to support bus and light rail services as they recover from the pandemic.
In recent months there had been concerns that bus operators faced a precarious Spring, as funding to help them survive through the pandemic ended before passenger numbers had recovered to pre-pandemic levels.
There were fears that many services could face the axe once funding stopped.
The Government announced the new funding that would last for six months, to October 2022.
After the announcement Tracey Brabin, Mayor of West Yorkshire, said: “I and other Metro Mayors have been calling for months for government to continue to support our local bus services. Passenger levels are rising as people return to work, education, and leisure but they are still much lower than before Covid hit.
“All bus operators, especially our smaller ones, have had this financial uncertainty hanging over them for too long. Last weekend, people in Wakefield and north Kirklees saw reductions to their services which an earlier decision on future funding might have avoided.
“And while I welcome this funding, we still don’t know what it means for West Yorkshire operators, services and passengers. We need transparency around how much money is available and what happens when it ends in October. We have ambitious plans for buses in West Yorkshire, but we need a stable network upon which to build.
“Buses are a vital means for many people to get around, to work, healthcare, social activities and education. I very much believe buses are an essential public service.
“Operators need to use this time to get more people onto buses, and not use it to further reduce bus routes and frequency.
“I urge government to work with me and other Mayors to bring stability and certainty to our local bus networks with some long-term, strategic funding instead of making decisions at the last possible moment.”