Jeremy Corbyn announces £1.3bn a year funding pledge to reverse cuts to bus routes
A Labour government would commit an extra £1.3bn a year to reverse bus route cuts, Jeremy Corbyn has announced.
The Labour leader said his party would invest the cash each year to undo cuts made to over 3,000 bus routes across England and Wales since the Conservatives took power in 2010.
Official figures show that bus coverage is at a 30-year low, while numbers of passengers taking journeys outside of London have fallen by 10% since the beginning of the decade.
The party say restoring services would support local economies as well as help reduce air pollution by removing the number of cars on the road.
Mr Corbyn will make the announcement later today when he visits Nottingham - where the local Labour council continues to run a fleet of buses.
Speaking ahead of the trip, Mr Corbyn said bus services has been "devastated" by austerity policies.
"Thousands of routes have been axed, fares have soared and passenger numbers are in freefall," he said.
"Local services are a lifeline for many, particularly the elderly and those in rural areas. Cuts have had disastrous consequences for our towns and city centres and for air pollution and the environment.
"Bus networks are essential for towns and cities and for tackling rural poverty and isolation, which is why Labour is committed to creating thriving bus networks under public ownership."
Last year, Chancellor Philip Hammond announced funding for building new roads, ring-fenced from vehicle Excise Duty.
But Labour said they would expand the programme to a wider 'Sustainable Transport Fund' which would include extra cash to restore the bus routes.
The party have already announced that they would use cash from the fund to give under-25s free bus travel in a bid to encourage councils to set up their own bus companies.
Shadow Transport Secretary Andy McDonald said: "The Tories have neglected buses, along with the people and communities who rely on them.
"Slashing bus funding damages our communities by cutting people off from work and leisure and worsening congestion and air pollution."
Emily Yates, co-founder of the Association of British Commuters, said: "Public transport needs rebuilding from the ground up, and this means prioritising buses.
"Investment of this scale would lead to long-term social and economic benefits for the whole of the UK; paying dividends in terms of public health, social inclusion and transport poverty."
But Marcus Jones, Conservative vice chairman for local government, said: "Labour have already spent the pot of money they claim would fund this proposal, meaning they would have to clobber motorists with tax hikes and slash funding for road repairs to pay for it."