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MPs call for coordinated bus strategy to address decline

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The country’s most popular form of public transport is in serious decline due to fragmented government policy and reductions in council funding, a cross-party committee of MPs has said.

In England, funding for bus services fell by £171.6m between 2010-11 and 2017-18 to £202.7m, with more than 3,000 routes reduced, changed or withdrawn over the period.

The committee has called for the government to set out plans on how it will support councils to improve bus services.

Chair Lilian Greenwood (Lab) said: “The numbers using bus services are falling. This has direct consequences on people’s lives, impacting on journeys to work, education and social events. It narrows our transport options and pushes us towards less environmentally-friendly choices.”

Responding to the report, transport spokesman for the Local Government Association Martin Tett (Con) said: “Any strategy would have to be backed by adequate resources and find a fully funded long term solution to concessionary fares which are underfunded by at least £652m a year. This is unsustainable for councils already struggling to protect other subsidised bus travel in rural areas or helping young people with their travel costs.”

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