The Scottish Parliament has announced a second round of funding totalling £3m for Transport Scotland’s Bus Investment Fund (BIF) in a bid to improve the country’s local bus services, which will include the purchase of new vehicles.
Last year, 13 bus projects throughout Scotland received grants totalling 4.2m under the first round of the BIF. Projects included the purchase of new buses for Deeside Community Transport, including wheelchair accessible minibuses, and the North Lanarkshire Connector Bus Service, where the BIF funded the acquisition of six vehicles for Transport Scotland to lease back to the community scheme.
Keith Brown, Transport Minister for Scotland said, “We set up the Bus Investment Fund in April last year to encourage and support partnership working to improve bus services for communities across Scotland, for example by improving infrastructure or raising quality. We were pleasantly surprised to receive 45 bids for a wide range of projects and were also encouraged to see the ambition, diversity and geographical spread of ideas.
“Following the interest shown in the first round of the Fund and the range of proposals, I am pleased to announce further funding in a bid to increase the standard of bus services and patronage across Scotland.”
The spread of minibuses for use in rural communities is on the rise across the UK as a whole. Latest registration figures from SMMT show that sub-3.5-tonne minibuses are up 8.5% year to date and 62.5% up in June, compared to the same period last year.
Bus projects across Scotland will be able to apply for up to £500,000 over two years from the Fund and, apart from the vehicles themselves, will cover items such as the installation of new bus shelters. Separate initiatives in England and Wales are also under way.