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Extra support for bus companies welcomed

A short-term £2 fare capping initiative has been welcomed in Staffordshire.

The Government-funded scheme will run from 1st January to 31st March, with several local operators taking part.

Although Staffordshire County Council does not run bus services, it is already providing 12 months’ temporary support for operators while they try and rebuild the popularity of services post-pandemic.

David Williams, the authority’s Cabinet member for Highways and Transport, said: “The additional funding to help people get around for £2 is good news.

“Around 95 per cent of bus services in Staffordshire are entirely commercial and many of these have been running at a loss for some time since the pandemic.

“Although the county council doesn’t run buses we have been putting funding in to support operators while they attract passengers back and anything which adds to our support is a good thing.”

In Staffordshire, operators which have chosen to participate in the scheme includeArriva Midlands, First Potteries, D&G, Chaserider, Select, National Express, Taxico and Trent Barton.

In the autumn the county council announced an additional £750,000 of targeted support for specific routes on top of the £8 million spent in the sector annually by the authority, not including home to school transport.

Despite not delivering bus services, the authority does work closely with operators, other councils and communities to promote a sustainable transport network wherever possible.

In recent years threatened commercial routes have been saved by using money contributed by housing developers to improve community facilities and by moving around 2,000 pupils entitled to Home to School transport from bespoke buses to public services.

David Williams added: “Bus services not only get people to and from work and the classroom, but support town centre retail and leisure businesses and help reduce carbon emissions by leaving the car at home.

“Current support from the Government ends in March, while our temporary support continues until the autumn, and if people value their local services we should encourage them to be used now or they may disappear in future.”


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