MCA BOARD AGREES FUNDING TO KEEP SCHOOL BUSES GOING
Published 25 July 2022 at 4:07pm
South Yorkshire’s Mayoral Combined Authority Board has today (25 July) approved using its budget reserves to protect school buses at risk from brutal cuts.
The region is facing the loss of a third of its bus network, as government funding to help operators get through the pandemic comes to an end.
The first of the cuts came into effect yesterday (24 July), with further routes at risk in October, including commercially-operated school buses.
South Yorkshire’s Mayor Oliver Coppard and local leaders agreed to use up to £5.1m to protect these services over the next two years.
South Yorkshire’s Mayor Oliver Coppard said;
“Our communities are facing the very real threat of the biggest and most damaging cuts for a generation, thanks to this broken system which is failing passengers.
“At the moment we have limited powers over our bus service. I’m doing everything I can to speed up the process of getting the right powers in place, but until then, I’ll work hard to protect as many services as possible for passengers.
“I hope this emergency funding will reassure students and their families – as well as the schools themselves – that we will do whatever we can to keep these vital services running.”
School buses that carry children who get a zero fare bus pass from their local authority are not affected by the cuts, as these routes are already funded by SYMCA. The routes under threat are the ones which also carry children paying 80p fares.
Most buses in South Yorkshire are run by private companies. Under the current system these companies are free to decide where and when they will run services. When bus companies withdraw services – as they are expected to do in October when government funding stops – SYMCA can pay other companies to run the route. However, in the most recent tender process, a number of routes received no bids from operators.
South Yorkshire’s Mayor Oliver Coppard continued,
“The loss of any bus service is a huge blow to our communities, so the scale of the cuts bus companies are planning in October is devastating.
“We’re going to be talking to people across the region about how to make the best use of the public money we have to support our buses, and how we can make South Yorkshire’s bus system better for everyone.”
SYMCA lost out in the most recent round of government bus funding. Mayor Oliver Coppard has called on the government to provide emergency funding to keep the service going while SYMCA is in the process of seeing if it can take buses back into public control through the franchising process.
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