Buses can help city economies grow fast, report

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SPENDING on buses could give Ministers a quicker and cheaper way to help the economy than investing in ‘big ticket’ transport infrastructure, according to a new report.

The research found bus services in England’s major urban areas outside London are responsible for economic benefits worth around £2.5bn

The report from pteg, which represents passenger transport executives such as Metro and SYPTE in Yorkshire, suggests grants to bus operators generate £2.80 for every £1 spent while every £1 used to support concessionary fares generates £1.50.

It also found that the majority of the bus industry’s £5bn turnover every year is ploughed back into the areas where operators work through their supply chains and because their staff live in the area.

Pteg chairman David Brown said: “This report suggests that whilst there is a great deal of focus on big transport infrastructure schemes as a way of generating growth, the urban bus also deserves more attention from policy makers.

“Investing more in the bus could be one of the biggest bargains there is for government in supporting big city economies, in getting the jobless back to work and in addressing some deep rooted, and ultimately costly, social challenges.”

The report was published yesterday as councillors in Barnsley raised concerns over the impact of poor transport links on the town’s economy.

Councillors on the authority’s economy and skills scrutiny commission warned transport issues were harming efforts to help the long term unemployed back into work.

Young people, particularly in the west of the district, were finding it “almost impossible” to access apprenticeships because of poorly served bus routes, the commission found..

Commission chairman coun Dick Wraith said: “The council and its partners are doing everything they can to bring new jobs to Barnsley, and that hard work needs to continue.

“However, we need to make sure that local people can get to the jobs that are out there, especially young people, who can lose out to older competitors who have their own transport and don’t need to rely on bus services to get them to work.”