Darren asks Government about Bristol’s buses

Darren asked three Written Parliamentary Questions about Bristol’s buses, focused on finding how to improve them in light of several recent route changes and closures.


Darren Jones, Labour, Bristol North West

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, whether he plans to replace the service on a bus route when an operator removes it; and if he will make a statement.

Nusrat Ghani, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport), Assistant Whip (HM Treasury)

The bus market in England, outside London, is deregulated and most services are provided on a commercial basis by private operators. Where there is not enough demand for a bus route to be commercially viable in its own right all local authorities have powers to subsidise bus services.

Local bus services have to be registered with the Traffic Commissioner. When an operator wants to vary or cancel a registered bus service it must provide relevant local authorities with a copy of the application at least 28 days before it makes the application to the Traffic Commissioner. Once the application has been submitted to the Traffic Commissioner the service can be varied or cancelled after 42 days, or less in certain prescribed circumstances if agreed by the Traffic Commissioner.

This system provides local authorities with time to consider the implications of a service variation or cancellation and in particular whether they wish to procure and subsidise a replacement service.


Darren Jones, Labour, Bristol North West

To ask the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, what recent discussions he has had with the Chancellor of the Exchequer on funds for the new powers to bring about change and unlock the potential for the bus industry to achieve more for passengers as set out in the Bus Services Act 2017.

Rishi Sunak, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Housing, Communities and Local Government)

The Secretary of State meets with ministers, including HMT ministers, regularly to discuss a range of issues relating to local government. Local authorities in England outside London spend over £1 billion a year on bus services. Over the five year period from 2015-16 to 2019-20 councils will have access to more than £200 billion, after the Autumn 2018 budget.


Darren Jones, Labour, Bristol North West

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will provide sufficient funding to local authorities to enable bus subsidies to return to their 2010 levels in real terms

Elizabeth Truss, The Chief Secretary to the Treasury

Government support for bus services has averaged £2.2 billion a year since 2010/11, which is 23 per cent more than the average yearly spend between 1996/97 and 2009/10 in real terms.

Note: Darren is asking a follow up question to this one, because bus subsidies in 2009/10 (last year of Labour govt) was £2.47 bil (see DfT statistics here https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/666804/bus0502.ods).