In many areas, the bus is essential. It enables people to get to work, to school, to the doctor's or to hospital, and can drastically improve quality of life. The Government has a role to play in supporting local bus services, and continued investment in buses is essential.
That is why at the 2015 Spending Review the Government committed to protecting the Bus Service Operator's Grant. This amounted to approximately £250 million in 2015, with around £40 million of this paid directly to English local authorities to help deliver bus services. This central funding has also been ring-fenced this financial year. You may be interested to know that the Government also funds almost £1 billion of local authority spending on the concessionary bus every year, which the Government is committed to maintaining in this Parliament.
Bus projects and infrastructure are also important, so I am pleased that around £200 million is expected to be spent on bus infrastructure schemes to 2020. This builds on the work of the Coalition Government, which allocated around £300 million for major bus projects.
Ministers are also taking forward the Bus Services Bill, to provide local authorities with the means to improve local bus services. Local authorities will be able to set required standards of service with bus providers, including ticketing and the frequencies of services. It will also give powers to franchise services to combined authorities with directly elected Mayors to allow them to take control of their services, as Transport for London does in London.
The Bus Services Bill will allow other cities to enjoy the same local control of their bus networks that we have in our capital. London's bus network, which carries six and half million passengers every day, is already one of the most extensive and accessible anywhere in the world. Transport for London is investing £200 million on a bus priority scheme, which includes changes to road layouts and junctions as well as small alterations to routes so that buses can avoid traffic hotspots. Devolution is a proven method for success, and therefore this bill aims to replicate this model throughout the country.