I am pleased to announce today (8 December 2011) a £60 million package of bus measures to improve buses and community transport coupled with the £30 million investment to improve the environmental performance of the bus fleet that was announced by the Chancellor in the autumn statement, this is a £90 million boost for our buses.
A new £50 million Better Bus Area fund will provide grants of up to £5 million to a minimum of 10 local authorities working in partnership with local bus operators for them to spend in 2012 to 2013. The aim of the fund is to increase bus patronage in busy urban areas, and the department’s aims of creating growth and cutting carbon. Authorities wishing to bid for bus funding will be asked to submit bids in February to allow the department to make awards by the end of March. Detailed bidding guidance will be placed on the departmental website shortly.
To support further the establishment and development of community transport, I am also making available £10 million to be distributed to 76 local authorities in England, outside London, by formula; this is a repeat of the Supporting Community Transport Fund announced in March 2011. Letters will be sent to eligible local authorities in the new year, with details of the timing of payments. This comes on top of the £10 million distributed back in March 2011.
As well as these two new funds, last week the Chancellor announced £25 million of funding for environmental improvement to buses. £20 million of this will be available to bus operators to help them buy low-carbon emission buses through a further round of the Green Bus Fund, for which detail bidding guidance will be published shortly. The remaining £5 million will allow older buses in London to be retrofitted with pollution-reducing equipment to help deliver air quality improvements in the capital. Together with additional funding from Transport for London, the total amount being committed is £10 million. Not only should this deliver a step change in the environmental performance of buses in the capital, but it will help promote jobs across the UK in the companies that supply clean vehicle technology.