§ Charlotte Atkins
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what steps the Government are taking to ensure that private bus companies continue to provide comprehensive local bus services to small communities. 
§ M. Spellar
I have been asked to reply.
The provision of bus services to small communities is one of the issues we would expect local authorities to consider when drawing up their local transport plans. We encourage local authorities to work in partnership with operators to help meet the public transport needs in their area, and they may also, where necessary, provide funding for bus services that are not being met commercially.68W
My Department also provides support for bus services in small communities in rural areas by means of the Rural Bus Subsidy Grant and Rural Bus Challenge schemes. These two schemes have been allocated a total of £198 million over the period 2001–02 to 2003–04.
Additional support is provided by the Countryside Agency for small-scale rural transport projects through its Rural Transport Partnership scheme for which £32 million is available for the period 2001–02 to 2003–04.