Bus Services after the Spending Review - Transport Committee Contents

Written evidence from R J Farron (BUS 61)

1.    The Bus Service Operators' Grant (BSOG) ensures that essential public transport links are maintained, especially between rural and urban areas. For some users these links are the only method of transport for employment or everyday purposes. For other users, bus services provide a relatively cheap transport mode compared with private transport modes. Whilst a reduction in providing this may be necessary to reduce the Government deficit, alternative methods of reducing bus service operating costs should be considered.

2.    Bus services and community transport schemes in particular, are vital for reducing social exclusion throughout England as well as playing an important part in reducing congestion and carbon emissions from private vehicles. The removal of important rural services, as a result of reducing BSOG, removes a transport link for people who do not have access to private transport modes and rely on rural bus services on a daily basis.

3.    Coupled with increases to fuel prices, the reduction of BSOG will result in the removal of essential services and in some areas entire service networks could be severely reduced. Both the Campaign for Better Transport and the Local Government Association, among others, highlight the negative effects associated with the removal of the BSOG.

4.    Where services are not removed, fares will increase to cover the costs of non-profitable but essential services. These increases will create another barrier and serve to reduce the effect of campaigns promoting the switch from private transport modes to public transport modes.

5.    The overall consensus of the bus industry is that these reductions are deeply worrying for passengers and operators. If operators receive less revenue due to BSOG reduction they will be looking to reduce mileage and/or increase fares. This will lead to a modal switch towards private transport modes.

6.    The reduction of BSOG to bus operators could be mitigated by an exemption of fuel duty for all bus and coach operators. This is arguably a more effective way that the Government can help the industry if they remain committed to doing this.[48]

7.    The negative effect of removing bus services will cause an increase in private vehicle transport ownership/usage, leading to further increases in congestion and emission outputs, running counter to the Government's carbon and congestion reduction targets. Furthermore, an increase in the number of private vehicles on the roads as well as the number of trips generated may result in an increase in fatal and non-fatal accidents.

8.    With bus services regarded as inflexible by private vehicle users, the removal of non-viable routes and services would serve to further degrade the image of the bus industry and the important role it has within society.

9.    A potential positive effect of the reduction in BSOG is an increase in innovation regarding "green" buses and fuels. This may occur as bus companies seek to reduce operating costs by introducing cheaper, more efficient buses/fuels or hybrids. This effect is unlikely to be realised in a suitable timeframe to negate the removal of essential services.

February 2011

48   Chris Cheek-BSOG abolition: making a crisis out of a drama? 4/9/2010 http://taspublications.co.uk/blog/?p=313  Back

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Prepared 11 August 2011