Slough Council misses out on funds to improve bus travel

SLOUGH Borough Council is “disappointed” the government deemed its plans to improve bus travel ‘not ambitious enough’.

Last year, the council submitted a bus service improvement plan (BSIP) that sets out its vision for bus travel in the area in hopes to have a slice of the £3bn ‘Bus Back Better’ scheme, which is a national plan to improve bus services as well as make them cheaper and greener.

Some of the plans included adding bus lanes on Farnham Road and Windsor Road, reducing fares, and upgrading bus stops. The costs are unknown, but the council estimated it could cost £54m.

Seventy local authorities applied, including Windsor and Maidenhead, Bracknell, and Wokingham, but only 31 areas successfully managed to secure funding, such as Reading which received £26.3m.

READ MORE: Windsor & Maidenhead ‘disappointed’ it did not get bus funding

Only £1.2bn of the scheme has been dished out to the successful local authorities.

The government said areas not showing ‘sufficient ambition’ to improve bus travel would not receive funding.

A council spokesperson said they were “particularly disappointed” the government believed their plans were not ambitious enough, adding their proposals would “genuinely help” improve bus services and network performance in Slough.

Given the council’s financial difficulties and the effects of Covid-19 on bus passenger numbers, the spokesperson added their plans relied on having this funding.

However, the council will still engage with bus operators via its enhanced partnership.

They said: “Although Slough has been unsuccessful in this funding round, the government has stated that more BSIP funds may become available in due course.

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“The Department for Transport has also indicated that possible alternative government funding opportunities, including the Levelling Up fund, may be applicable for BSIP purposes.

“In the meantime, the council will continue to engage with the operators to improve services as far as practically possible. An essential element of the partnership will be ongoing frequent and thorough communication, in a coordinated and cooperative approach.”

The council is currently waiting for an update on its bid made to the Department for Transport to improve cycling and walking facilities on the A4.

Slough Observer | News