Written evidence submitted by Somerset Bus Partnership (BUS0013)
BUS BACK BETTER
In March 2021, the Bus Back Better proposals were welcomed, and responded to in a very positive and imaginative way by our local transport authority (Somerset County Council).
The Somerset Bus Partnership was set up to ensure that the voice of public transport users was a contributing and continuing part of the Bus Service Improvement Plan, and we have had enthusiastic engagement across the county
The Bus Back Better Strategy document, published by the government, makes a clear distinction between emergency and transformative funding: the former being the CBSSG and the latter the proposed £3bn for improving and developing services.
The document states: “CBSSG will remain in place as long as it is needed”, and “CBSSG is discretionary, as will be future bus funding from the £3bn.”
Imagine our shock, therefore, when it was revealed in, January 2022, that the £3bn transformative funding had been reduced to £1.4bn, because the government had decided to conflate emergency and transformative funding, regarding the £1bn emergency funding already provided as part of the £3bn!
Whether this is the result of ineptitude or deception, it has been a huge disappointment to LTAs who have been encouraged to submit ambitious bus development plans, and to bus users who have been excitedly developing plans to promote bus use across Somerset. The total cost of submissions, I understand, is £7bn!
This is a sorry way to administer a proposal which was originally put as a exciting means of transforming bus travel, as part of our need to improve health, well-being, connectivity and sustainability, and now looks likely to lead to widespread disappointment and disillusionment.