Tories to reinstate all 3,000 bus routes axed in spending cuts, claims transport secretary

Rob Merrick

All 3,000 bus routes axed because of government spending cuts will be restored and passengers could soon be “calling one up on your app”, the transport secretary has claimed.

Grant Shapps made the audacious promise to reverse all the damage from the years of austerity, as he set out how the £5bn now pledged for buses would be spent.

“We ought to be not just bringing back lost routes, but also ensuring that the regularity is such that you see in London,” Mr Shapps argued.

“And going further than that, so modern technology means that you can have buses on demand. You could actually be literally calling one up on your app.”

Asked again, on the BBC’s Andrew Marr programme, if the 3,000 lost routes would be brought back, Mr Shapps replied: “I hope we go beyond what we had before and have a better bus service.”

The comments came as Mr Shapps denied his department is in talks with China’s state-owned railway about building HS2, to slash costs and speed up the project.

He also suggested the new chancellor would stick to the manifesto commitment to balance day-to-day spending in three years – days after No 10 refused to give the commitment.

The transport secretary was quizzed on the impact of the £5bn fund, which will focus on running more services during the evenings and on weekends, as well as “more affordable, simpler fares”.

Campaigners have welcomed the move after 82 of 88 local transport authorities in England – excluding London – slashed their bus services over the last 10 years.

On routes, Mr Shapps added: “I don’t know exactly where they’ll be and how it’ll work until people start bidding for those.

“But can I just say it’s not just the bus service itself – it’s also getting on a bus which is warm or air conditioned, and maybe has a USB port for your phone, is 5G and all those things as well to make them really comfortable.”

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