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Bus services set to leave Disabled people isolated

10 February 2022

Bus services are being slashed due to driver shortage and after funding under Boris Johnson's £3 billion plan for a "bus revolution" has been substantially reduced.

Disabled users of bus services face difficulties in using their local buses due to "a decline in many bus services" through a combination of Covid illness, shortage of drivers and massively reduced government funding.

Promised transformational bus investment is instead a badly managed decline and is a betrayal of the promises previously made which will hit Disabled passengers particularly hard.

In some areas, services have already been drastically cut with an effective reduction of up to 30% of useable Disabled and priority accessible spaces. Upper decks are not generally accessible for many older or Disabled people.

Stephen Brookes of Disability Rights UK says that on a route he uses very frequently, “double decker buses are full to standing downstairs with passengers like myself who cannot use the upper deck now unable to travel as they should, as the service timetable has been cut from what used to be a 10 minute service to every 30 minutes. This route involves passing a large medical centre and large college both of which seriously impact on capacity for those Disabled and older passengers who need a bus to access shopping and other daily services.”

The Government’s "bus back better" – a plan branded a "bus revolution" strategy announced by the Prime Minister last year, is now in question because the committed levels of funding are not adequate to secure the future provision of bus services in our cities and regions. The £3 billion that was originally and specifically pledged for transforming bus services has been substantially reduced and is seen by some local mayors as significant double counting from City Region Sustainable Transport Settlements and already-spent emergency Covid funding.

Several regional mayors have written to Chancellor Rishi Sunak and Transport Secretary Grant Shapps warning that there will be "a further significant round of service reductions" this year without further help.

Without a timely decision from the Treasury to maintain funding there will be a further significant round of service reductions in the first half of this year which will reinforce the decline in many bus networks which was occurring pre-Covid and which will lead to more isolation for Disabled people.