§ Mr. Andrew Turner
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what(a) fuel tax rebates and (b) other subsidies are available to operators of buses, trains, taxis, passenger hovercraft, passenger ferries, coaches and other means of public transport on UK internal routes.
§ Mr. Jamieson
Operators of local bus services in England receive fuel duty rebate from my Department. For the fuel predominantly used in bus operation, ultra low sulphur diesel, this is equivalent to 80 per cent. of the duty paid. Following consultation in the spring, we will be introducing regulations later this financial year to142W extend this rebate to a wide range of community transport services. We have also announced approval in principle of a recommendation from the Commission for Integrated Transport under which operators of long-distance scheduled coach services would receive the rebate in return for offering half-price fares to older and disabled passengers. Operators of Licensed Hackney Carriages, who hold a Bus Operators Licence, can also receive Fuel Duty Rebate when operating Taxi-Bus services along registered routes.
Local authorities outside London have powers under the Transport Act 1985 to subsidise bus services where transport needs are not being met by an existing commercial service. My Department also provides grants to local authorities to support bus services by means of the Rural Bus Subsidy Grant, Rural Bus Challenge and Urban Bus Challenge grant schemes.
The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs provides grants, administered by the Countryside Agency, for a range of community-based transport initiatives in rural areas.
Bus, coach and taxi operators can apply for grants towards the cost of converting to cleaner fuels or fitting emission reduction technologies through my Department's PowerShift and CleanUp programmes.
Train operating companies (TOCs) receive support for passenger rail services (SPRS) from the Strategic Rail Authority (SRA) to enable them to provide services which produce social, environmental and economic benefits that cannot be paid for through fares and charges. Similarly Passenger Transport Executives (PTEs) pay grants to those TOCs which provide rail services in their areas. Freight Operating Companies (FOCs) receive freight grants from the SRA to encourage the movement of freight by rail in order to maximise environmental benefits by removing lorries from roads.
Since 1 April 2001, Railtrack has received network grants from the SRA. Various organisations also receive funding from the SRA under the Rail Passenger Partnership (RPP) scheme.
My Department supports the work of Transport for London through the Greater London Authority Transport Grant which is paid under the Greater London Authority Act 1999. Transport for London's responsibilities include support for buses, light rail and the Woolwich ferry.
Grant is provided to London Regional Transport using powers under the London Regional Transport Act 1984 to support London Underground.
Under the Local Transport Plan system, my Department only provides capital support for light rail projects.
Apart from its indirect support for the Woolwich ferry, my Department does not provide subsidies for operators of passenger hovercraft and passenger ferries. These are matters for local authorities.