Hampshire County Council’s Executive Lead Member for Universal Services, Councillor Nick Adams-King, approved the funding package at his Decision Day on Monday 13 March.
Councillor Adams-King said: “The County Council has a statutory duty to reimburse bus operators for free travel by passengers who are holders of older persons’ and disabled persons’ passes. This funding stream makes an important contribution to the viability of bus services in Hampshire. The number of people using buses across England declined steeply during the Covid-19 pandemic and, whilst the picture is improving, has still not returned to pre-pandemic levels. This, alongside rising operating costs, is putting ongoing pressure on bus operators. Therefore, I am pleased to approve enhanced funding for bus companies which will mean that for the next financial year we will reimburse them using pre-Covid concessionary fare journey levels.”
Councillor Adams-King also agreed that for the current and next financial year, up to £1.2m of underspend in the concessionary fares budget will be ringfenced for supporting local bus services and related infrastructure in Hampshire*. The intention is for the temporary underspend, caused by the decline in the number of people travelling with a concessionary bus pass, to be used to boost passenger numbers in the longer term. This follows the Government’s recent announcement of an extension until to the end of June to the £2 cap on single bus fares.
Councillor Adams-King added: “Our aim is to bolster bus operators and local services to encourage more passengers to once again opt for bus travel in the coming months, helping to protect vital public transport service network.”
Extra County Council funding to support Hampshire bus services
Additional financial support is being given to bus operators in Hampshire to help operators maintain services that have not yet regained the passenger levels seen before the Covid-19 pandemic
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Mar 16 2023