1 Introduction |
1. Buses are the most available and frequently used
mode of public transport in England. Two-thirds of all passenger
journeys are made by bus: there were 4.6bn bus passenger journeys
in England in 2009-10 (2.4bn outside of London), compared to 1.3bn
rail and 1.1bn London Underground journeys.
A quarter of UK households do not have access to a car, including
one in ten households in rural areas.
We received a great deal of evidence, including from bus users,
about the economic, social, environmental and other benefits provided
by local buses. A selection of these views is provided in the
2. Yet buses remain an undervalued mode of public
transport and, unlike other modes such as rail, bus users lack
a distinctive influential lobbying voice. We were told that, despite
buses being the most used mode of transport, "central and
local government policy and public opinion all tend to neglect
their contribution until, as at present, dramatic change is necessary".
Bus policy was considered to "drift [...] punctuated only
by the significant changes necessary to meet regulatory reform
or budgetary restrictions".
Certainly, on this occasion, it has been budgetary pressures that
have pushed bus policy up the agenda once again.
3. The Coalition Government's Spending Review in
October 2010 included three decisions with implications for the
- an overall 28% reduction in local authority revenue
expenditure from 2011-12;
- changes in the formula for concessionary travel
reimbursement from 2011-12;
- a 20% reduction in the Bus Service Operators'
Grant from 2012-13.
4. We launched our inquiry into the funding of bus
services in England (outside London) in November 2010 in the light
of the outcome of the Spending Review.
We received written evidence from 141 organisations and individuals.
Oral evidence was heard between January and May 2011. We are grateful
for all those who contributed evidence, both written and oral.
We were advised throughout by Peter Hardy of JMP Consultants Ltd,
an independent transport consultancy.
5. From the outset of our inquiry, we were keen to
hear the views of bus users about proposed changes to local services.
In collaboration with the Parliamentary Outreach service, we alerted
the public to our inquiry through the distribution of leaflets
in libraries and citizens' advice bureaus, and the use of Parliament's
Facebook page. We responded to several petitions about
local bus services presented in the House of Commons by Members
of Parliament. We also took oral evidence from a panel of bus
users. The plethora of evidence we received from bus users proved
extremely valuable to our inquiry, not only to illustrate the
importance of local bus services but to give us an up-to-date
account of the changes occurring across the country.
6. We decided not to focus on the broader issue of
the regulation of the bus industry, in part because the Competition
Commission was holding its own investigation into this matter
in parallel to our inquiry.
We specifically focussed on bus services in England outside London.
The franchised, regulated London network, which is the responsibility
of the Mayor of London, is very different to the largely deregulated
structure of bus service provision elsewhere in England. Bus services
in London have, in general, not been affected as significantly
by the outcome of the Spending Review as services outside the
1 Department for Transport statistics, tables BUS 0103,TSGB0102,
Department for Transport, National Travel Survey, tables
NTS 0205, NTS9902 Back
Ev 80 Back
Our terms of reference were to examine: the impact of the reduction
in Bus Service Operators' Grant, including on community transport;
the impact and reduction in local authority grant support to bus
services and other changes to the funding of local authority bus
schemes and services by the Department for Transport; the implementation
and financial implications of free off-peak travel for elderly
and disabled people on all local buses anywhere in England under
the Concessionary Bus Travel Act 2007; and how passengers' views
are taken into account in planning bus services, and the role
of Passenger Focus in this area. Back
Mr Hardy made formal declarations of interests which can be found
in the formal minutes of the Transport Committee, Session 2010-12,
Appendix B Back
The Competition Commission published its provisional findings
in June 2011. Back
Responsibility for local bus services is devolved in Scotland,
Wales and Northern Ireland. Back
Transport for London's (TfL) overall grant funding from the Department
for Transport was reduced by £2.17bn over the four years
of the Spending Review, or 21% in real terms in 2014-15 compared
to the base year of 2010-11. However, the overall DfT grant is
just one element of TfL's funding, which also includes fares,
borrowing and other sources of revenue, such as advertising and
commercial partnerships. The Greater London Authority says that
the reduction in DfT grant funding has, in part, been covered
by increased ridership on the Tube, bus and rail network. "Mayor
secures vital London transport investment and protects frontline
services", Greater London Authority press release, 20 October