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£11.4 million from Government for unprofitable Nottingham bus services

Bus services in Nottingham struggling to recover from a slump in passenger numbers will be propped up by a Government grant.

Nottingham City Council says some routes are not being used enough to make them profitable, partly because journeys have not yet returned to pre-pandemic levels.

The council has released this list of 21 Nottinghamshire bus services which will benefit.

The council is being given £11.4 million to help keep them going and also build new bus lanes and other public transport infrastructure.

The Labour-run authority says the funding “provides a welcome boost as the public transport network continues to recover from the impact of the pandemic”.

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The council is expected to accept the funding and discuss how it will be spent next week.

In a report released ahead of a meeting on the spending, the council adds: “In addition to the investment in new bus infrastructure, a number of bus services that are at risk of withdrawal will be supported and enhanced to maintain attractive levels of frequency, open up new connectivity and return to higher levels of commerciality as new travel and work patterns continue to stabilise and consolidate as part of the recovery from the impact of the pandemic.”

The grant money will come from the Government’s Bus Service Improvement Plan (BSIP), which aims to make bus services across the country more efficient and sustainable.

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In 2020 the Department for Transport asked local authorities to draw up a BSIP and a number were then selected to receive grant money.

Nottingham and Nottinghamshire were two of 31 successful local authorities, with the former receiving £11.4 and the latter £18.7m.

The city council report says: “It will help the network realign to the new levels of bus patronage which are currently in the region of 80 to 85 per cent of the level of bus use before the pandemic hit and grow patronage going forward.”

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The grant money will be accepted during a meeting of executive councillors on Tuesday next week (October 18).

Some of the schemes will include investment in bus priority on busy roads as well as new bus lanes, subject to public consultation.

Among the work planned is a £2.5m bus priority network on the A6002/A611 Moor Bridge Roundabout (Hucknall Lane/ Moor Bridge Road).

Some at-risk services will also be supported, while £375,000 will go towards the mobility concession for city residents travelling before 9.30am, £70,000 on a jobseekers’ fare scheme, and £450,000 on youth fares for young people age 21 and under.

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“The development of the Bus Service Improvement Plan (BSIP)…was delivered following public consultation in partnership with Nottinghamshire County Council and liaison with local bus operators,” the council added.

“Feedback from the public consultation was then used to identify areas of congestion and pinch-points that impact on bus reliability and extend journey times.

“This feedback was then translated into schemes that support government objectives around bus priority and take into account public views on the importance of reliable and punctual bus services, fares initiatives, ticketing improvements and bus route development to support better connectivity.”

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