The Department for Transport has announced that it is committing to the improvement of local transport connections and economic growth, through the allocation of significant funding.
Having already allocated an investment of £19 million to improve Kent’s transport connections, the county council will receive a further £16.1 million towards its Bus Service Improvement Plan. This will see local services improved through accelerated journey times, lower fares, and improved punctuality.
This funding takes government the funding for Kent’s bus infrastructure to more than £35 million since 2022, however it is all part of wider public sector plans to improve transport connectivity for communities. These improved connections are central to plans to grow the economy, whilst also improving the standard of living for residents as they are able to save money and easily access work, leisure, medical appointments and visit loved ones.
What did the government say?
Richard Holden, Roads Minister, said:
“Many people across Kent rely on the bus to get to work and go shopping, attend medical appointments, and see friends and family.
“That is why today we’re confirming over £16 million on top of our previous £19 million investment to boost Kent’s bus services and help build the modern, reliable, and affordable bus network all residents in Kent deserve.
“We’ve now invested more than £3.5 billion since 2020 to protect bus routes in England help people ‘Get Around for £2’ as we leave no stone unturned to level up transport, help people save money on travel and grow the economy.”
How much funding has already been committed?
Recently, £200 million was committed by the government to extend the £2 bus fare cap until the end of October 2023, with this then continuing at £2.50 until November 2024. This will be allocated alongside an additional £300 million for bus operators and local councils to protect vital bus routes into 2025 and provide increased long-term stability to the industry.
In the last three years, the bus sector has benefitted from more than £2 billion of government funding to help it recover from the pandemic, with more than £1 billion being invested in helping local authorities to deliver their long-term improvement plans.
Cabinet Member for Highways and Transport at Kent County Council, David Brazier, said:
“Better access to local transport helps our communities across Kent to thrive. The additional money from the Department for Transport’s bus service improvement plan will make it easier, cheaper, and more reliable to get around, thereby boosting our local economy.
“This gives us an opportunity to develop our relationships with operator firms across the county to ensure people can make easy and sustainable choices when they want to move around Kent, whether that be to learn, work or play.”
Kent’s local bus fleet will also benefit from £9.5 million that is being used on 32 new electric buses, as well as the necessary charging infrastructure. This funding came from the Zero Emissions Bus Regional Areas (ZEBRA) scheme and is committed to helping decarbonise local bus services.
Image credit: iStock