Mark Pritchard: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, if he will hold discussions with Arriva buses to ensure that its statutory obligations relating to access to public transport in rural areas are upheld.
Ms Nusrat Ghani, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Transport: Outside of London, the bus market in England is deregulated. Bus operators have no statutory obligations to make public transport available in particular areas. Where there is not enough demand for a bus route to be commercially viable in its own right, all local authorities have powers to subsidise bus services where they are considered socially necessary. However, the Government understands how important public transport is for those living in rural areas. Ministers from the Department regularly hold discussions with a wide range of bus operators, including Arriva where rural bus service provision is a key focal point of discussion.