The Campaign for Better Transport has warned that rural bus services will be lost if government funding is cut in next month’s [July 2013] spending round. However, the Bus Service Operator’s Grant (a fuel duty rebate and the main support provided to bus services, funded by the Department for Transport) is not the same as local authority support, and it is separate from the grant bus operators get for new buses. Oxford, for example, seems to be getting lots of new hybrid buses — electric (battery) buses with an on-board diesel generator to top up the battery. A large double decker has a 2 litre diesel generator, which is switched off when in crowded streets. The outcome is a much smoother journey, with less pollution and much better fuel efficiency.
So, the counter argument is that local authorities should work with bus operators to convert parts of their fleets to the modern hybrids, which are well supported by grants. A switch from what is basically a fuel subsidy to a grant that promotes more efficient buses is both logical and beneficial, and should result in newer and better buses — something we would benefit from in northern Devon. The key to this is a commitment from the local transport authority to support public transport, so as to give the operators the confidence to invest.
See also this encouraging article about buses in northern Devon.
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