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12 Dec 2006 : Column 83WS

It is clear that buses play a crucial role in our transport system, with over two thirds of all public transport journeys made by bus. By next year, public expenditure on buses will have increased to £2.5 billion a year, up from £1 billion a decade earlier. The Government have put in place free local bus travel for older and disabled people within their local areas, and will extend that to cover local bus services across England from April 2008.

The bus review has shown that, in some places, bus services are working well. But in too many communities, the current framework is still not delivering the service that passengers rightly expect. Improving services in these areas demands better performance by bus operators and better traffic management by local authorities, and different approaches will be needed to reflect the diverse range of local circumstances that exist across the country. Crucially, higher quality and more reliable services are needed to make the bus a more attractive alternative to the private car and play its full role in tackling congestion and supporting economic growth.

The proposals published today therefore seek to provide a balanced package of measures that will
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deliver a sustainable long-term future for the bus sector, by putting the needs of passengers first. They include:

The Government will be discussing these proposals with key interested parties, before including provisions in the draft Road Transport Bill which will be published later in this parliamentary session.

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