What are subsidised bus services?
Around 90% of public transport in Cambridgeshire is run commercially with no involvement from the Local Authority, with only 10% receiving any form of financial support (or subsidy) from the County Council. Some of the services only receive a partial subsidy, effectively operating commercially when passenger numbers are high, then operating on subsidy outside of these times.
The majority of subsidised services operate in the more rural areas of the county where passenger numbers are low or where the lengths of journey mean that operating costs are high, making the services unviable to operate commercially. On some of these services, the level of subsidy required is over £10 per person for a single trip. This does not represent good value for money, therefore the Council has to review these contracts.
The Cambridgeshire Future Transport (CFT) Programme
In 2011, the budget for providing bus subsidies was reduced by 40%, resulting in a programme of work set up to review all bus contracts, investigating where savings could be made to reach the budget target of £1.5m. Between 2011 and 2016, the CFT project worked with the local community to investigate various options to provide transport solutions in a more cost-effective way.
These target savings were achieved through a variety of solutions, including, but not exclusive to:
- Working with bus operators to create timetables that are commercially viable.
- Design new bus services operating at times of peak usage to reduce empty journeys.
- Terminating at existing transport hubs to increase frequency.
- Minor changes to routes or timings to increase ridership and create more efficient journeys.
The final stage of the programme of review finished in June 2016, achieving the target budget. If you wish to view a particular project report from the Cambridgeshire Future Transport programme, please do email us with your request. Contact details can be found at the bottom of this page.
The future of subsidised bus services
The Combined Authority have agreed funding towards a review of current bus service provision across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough. This review will include a variety of options, with the aim of improving services in the medium and long term. The study will consider a broad range of factors, recognising that different areas of the Combined Authority may require different solutions. One option that will also be considered is franchising.
Some services have already had updates to their timetables, whilst others have been re-tendered after contracts have expired. Any updates on these new tenders, and changes to timetables will be uploaded to the website. When there is more specific information available regarding the review in general, this web page will also be updated.
The Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority Board approved the development of business cases for a range of operational models for bus delivery in the region that are available to the authority under the Bus Services Act 2017.
Notice of intention to consider bus franchising
The following notice is a requirement of the Bus Services Act before work on the assessment can start. Read the full notice.
For more information on which bus services the review may include, please refer to the table under Review subsidised bus services webpage. Also, for details of costs and subsidies for each of the bus routes, please see the document below.
Bus Service Operators Grant (BSOG)
BSOG is a grant paid to operators of eligible bus services and community transport organisations to help them recover some fuel costs. The amount each bus operator receives is based on their annual fuel consumption. The document below features details on how this has been applied in Cambridgeshire.