The forthcoming review of BSOG in England will not be about cutting the present 200m budget, but about how it is spent, says the Department for Transport (DfT).
While the May 2015 General Election means that no major bus-related legislation is expected before then, work has begun in preparation for a review of BSOG, as set out in the Green Light for Better Buses document published in March 2012. .
The DfT says that there is political concern about ‘bus cuts’ with the main focus on local authority funding, and there is particular concern in rural areas with fixed routes under pressure, and a possible greater role for community transport, demand-responsive transport, taxibuses and volunteering.
In urban areas, the pressure is on supported evening and weekend services.
Stage One of the reform of BSOG â€“ the transfer of payments to Transport for London (TfL) and English local authorities â€“ has already happened, with 90m going to TfL and 40m to local authorities for services they tender or support.
By the autumn Stage Two of the process will be launched, looking at a range of options with examples including:
- Payment per passenger
- Payment linked to the length of journey
- Further devolving of BSOG to local authorities
- Greater use of incentives.
Other options are likely to emerge as well and the DfT is very keen to involve everyone â€“ from passengers to industry â€“ in the review. The DfT emphasises that review will be ‘totally open’ and the consultation will be wide ranging, rather than one where a limited number of options are offered.