29 February 2000
100m more for country buses

By FWi staff

RURAL bus services have received a 100 million boost after the government agreed to double the life of a scheme funding thousands of services across England.

Transport minister Keith Hill announced on Tuesday (29 February) that the Rural Bus Subsidy Grant (RBSG) will continue for three years beyond 2000-1.

Funding will at least match its current 32.5m a year budget to provide services for rural populations.

The National Farmers Union welcomed the announcement, but said the government must consider a long-term strategy beyond 2004.

The Department of the Environment Transport and the Regions says the RBSG scheme, which began in 1998, has paid for 1845 new or improved services.

Mr Hill said: “This money has already brought benefits to people living in rural areas, and local authorities have stressed to us the value of continuing this new funding.

“We are committed to giving people greater choice and better access to high-quality public transport.

“In some cases, the Rural Bus Subsidy provides those living in the country with public transport for the first time in a generation.”

NFU head of environment and land use Brian McLaughlin said: “This announcement is good news and we welcome the recognition that there are real mobility problems in rural areas.

“While it would sound churlish to say its not enough, the question is what is going to happen once this extension ends in 2004.

“We need a longer-term strategy to tackle mobility problems in years to come.”