Funding boost for rural Leicestershire bus services

Bus services in Leicestershire have received a major boost after £1.79M in new funding was allocated by the government.
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The money, which will be used by Leicestershire County Council to support public transport, is for the year 2024-25 and follows the same amount of money being given to County Hall for more immediate use in June.

The new award will enable the county council to continue its strategic review of currently subsidised services, with the additional cash giving the opportunity for a wider view of the supported services.

It will not, however, mean the council will re-instate bus services which have been recently withdrawn, or fund poor value bus services.

Reflecting on the new funding, Councillor Ozzy O’Shea, cabinet member for highways and transport, said: “It’s our chance to shape the public transport offer across rural Leicestershire communities whilst ensuring we do not continue to pay for the low value services.

“90 percent of our bus network is commercial so the buses we run need to offer value-for-money for the council and for taxpayers.”

The funding is from the Bus Service Improvement Plan Plus (BSIP Plus) fund as part of Department for Transport (DfT) settlements to more than 60 local transport authorities in England.

Acknowledging that rural communities need long-term public transport options, Councillor O’Shea says the funding can ensure the hard work already underway to come up with plans to achieve this will continue.

Councillor O’Shea said: “This money will help us but it’s short-term funding, not a magic wand – we’re already working hard using the money we’ve already been given to come up with plans on how rural areas of Leicestershire can get public transport that works for both the council and residents.”

Melton MP, Alicia Kearns, welcomed the new funding.

Writing in her column this week for the Melton Times, she stated: “This additional funding will provide a significant boost for our local bus network, delivering an improved bus service for our passengers, and helping support the vulnerable bus routes in our rural communities.

“There are obvious requests for us in Melton, namely a Melton to Nottingham bus which I have written to Leicestershire County Council to request.”