In the Transport Secretary’s statement on England’s National Bus Strategy on 15th March in the House of Commons, Dr Neil Hudson, MP for Penrith and The Border, welcomed the strategy but also used the opportunity to urge Cumbria County Council to use the available funds to improve bus provision.
In a question to the Transport Secretary Dr Hudson asked:
“I very much welcome the Statement today which will make a huge difference to rural communities such as Penrith and The Border. Rural buses are a lifeline to many as they are so important for connecting communities in our large geographical area. Does my Right Honourable Friend agree with me that it is essential that Cumbria County Council make full use of these Government funds and they should work together with bus operators to make more routes viable, improve our local services and therefore assist in the fight against rural isolation.”
The Transport Secretary, Rt Hon Grant Shapps replied:
“My Honourable Friend is absolutely right about that and he will be interested to hear that part of the strategy today is £20 million for rural bus services to try out different approaches and, I am pleased to say, that out of the 17 Local Authorities that are being provided with some of that money Cumbria County Council are due to get £1.5 million and I hope he will work with them to deliver better services for all his constituents.”
Speaking after the Commons session Dr Hudson remarked:
“It is vital that Cumbria County Council seizes the chance to use these Government funds to improve services for people all over the County. Without accessible, affordable and regular buses many communities across Penrith and The Border feel cut off from nearby towns and villages. For many reasons a car may not be viable option for some, so they rely on bus services to shop, commute and travel to meet loved ones.
The support from the new National Bus Strategy, twinned with the £1.5 million from the Rural Mobility Fund should provide some of the necessary resources needed to improve services.”