Last reviewed 8 February 2022

One of the Government’s 12 designated levelling up missions to spread opportunity and reverse geographical inequalities in the UK is to bring local public transport connections closer to the standard in London.

With details set out in a White Paper entitled “Levelling up the United Kingdom”, Secretary of State Michael Gove invited the First Ministers of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to join a new collective effort to level up the whole of the UK.

The White Paper notes that transport can boost productivity by connecting people to jobs and businesses to each other. It also supports wider quality of life, positive health outcomes and local pride by helping to regenerate high streets and town centres, supporting people to increase their physical activity, socialise and access shops and services.

Mission Three therefore states that local public transport connectivity across the country will be significantly closer to the standards of London by 2030, with improved services, simpler fares and integrated ticketing.

The White Paper acknowledges that some of the UK’s biggest cities lack high-quality public transport meaning city centres cannot develop and ensure jobs are available within commuting distance, which contributes to congestion and lower productivity. However, it also recognises that smaller cities, towns and villages also need good public transport and high-quality local roads to ensure everyday journeys are safe and quick.

In places where it will make the most impact, the UK Government will enable increased frequencies and reduced fares, with high-frequency services in densely populated areas and new forms of demand-responsive transport to places, such as business parks and rural villages, that are not well served by linear bus routes.

In cities, new bus priority lanes will make buses faster, more reliable, more attractive to passengers and cheaper to run — enabling operators to invest further in making services better and reduce fares. Schemes include new green bus corridors in Liverpool and quality bus transit schemes in Greater Manchester.

The UK Government and Cornwall Council will also launch a new Superbus network, which will help to reduce fares by around 30% during the first phase, under the new Transport for Cornwall brand, which brings together all bus operators and the main train operator GWR.