Reading is one of the few councils to benefit from a multi-million pound investment in bus improvement funding announced by the Government.

Reading Borough Council has received £26.3 million to make improvements to bus services in the area.

Earlier this week, the Government announced £150 million will be invested into improving bus services as part of its ‘Bus Back Better’ programme.

Reading Borough was one of 12 councils which received funding after preparing a bid called a Bus Service Improvement Plan (BSIP).

READ MORE: Reading wins £26.3 million to boost bus services

Authorities up and down the country drew up their own BSIPs in an attempt to get funding.

Now the council must submit more detail to the Department for Transport laying out how it plans to spend the money.

Reacting to the news, councillor Tony Page (Labour, Abbey) lead member for transport, said: “We’re obviously very pleased.

“it’s a recognition of the strength of our bid and the potential for substantial improvements to the public transport offer in the Greater Reading area.

“It’s well short of what we were asked to bid for, I think the original bid was for over £100 million.

“Nonetheless, given the fact the money available from central government has shrunk from what was originally intimated, we are pleased with this allocation, and will look at the best  ways to spend the money.

“It reflects the track record and ability to deliver. Reading has an admirable track record for bidding for funding.

“That’s a factor the Department for Transport takes into account when making these allocations, given that other authorities either got less or nothing.

“It’s good news and we will be looking to make the best of these resources.”

Cllr Page added that the council must submit details to the Department for Transport on what it wants to invest in by the end of May.

Of the £23.6 million, nearly £16 million is earmarked for bus infrastructure improvements, and more than £10 million will be spent on service enhancements.

Ambitions laid out in the council’s BSIP include:

  • Investment in bus corridors (ie bus lanes) and forming routes that are easier for passengers to understand
  • Improving the ticketing system and making fares simpler
  • Decarbonising the bus fleet
  • Giving passengers more of a say through a ‘Passenger Charter’

A significant amount of the bus services in the borough are run by Reading Buses, which the council owns as a independent company.

According to the council’s BSIP submitted last October, Reading Buses operates 95 per cent of the bus services in the borough.

READ MORE: The Reading bus lanes that caught people out the most during the pandemic

The Reading Buses route also runs from Newbury to Windsor, effectively covering the whole of Berkshire.

Neighbours West Berkshire Council received £2.6 million, however Wokingham Borough Council received no funding.

Reading Buses runs services throughout both of these areas, including the suburbs of Woodley and Earley.