MERSEYSIDE will receive £8.8 million pounds to improve bus services over the next financial year, the Transport Secretary has announced.

It comes after Prime Minister Rishi Sunak scrapped the northern leg of the HS2 scheme from Birmingham to Manchester earlier this month, promising to put the money into hundreds of smaller transport projects instead.

The government has now announced how much areas across the Midlands and northern England will receive as part of a £150 million investment for bus services, which is the first stage of a £1 billion investment plan.

Local authorities covered by the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority, which includes St Helens, are set to receive £8.8 million.

The largest single allocation is £16.6 million for the West Midlands Combined Authority, while £16.3 million will go to Greater Manchester and almost £13.4 million to West Yorkshire.

Mr Sunak said: “This announcement marks the start of the Network North plan coming into action.

“We’re backing buses with one of the biggest ever support packages and keeping bus fares down to ensure the country’s favourite means of transport is more affordable for millions of people.

“This Government is taking the right long-term decisions to deliver on our vision for a fairer and improved transport system by investing billions back into to the transport projects that matter most to people and their communities.”

Local authorities and bus operators will be able to decide how to use the funding. That could mean reintroducing evening services, increasing the frequency of buses on busy routes or introducing new services to connect areas.

The Government said the funding would be enough to support up to 25 million miles of new bus services across the North and Midlands.

Transport Secretary, Mark Harper said: “Buses are the most popular form of public transport, which is why we are continuing to back our buses with record high levels of funding – supporting vital bus services and offering affordable travel for passengers.

The Government also confirmed the £2 cap on bus fares would be extended until the end of 2024.

“This increase in funding to deliver more reliable, frequent and affordable local bus services – and to extend the £2 bus fare cap – has only been possible with the redirected HS2 funding secured by this Government making the right long-term decisions for a brighter future,” Mr Harper added.

Community services for older people and vulnerable passengers will also receive a 60% funding increase in the amount they can claim for fuel to help keep costs down.

Chief executive of the Community Transport Association, Victoria Armstrong, said: “Community transport plays a vital role in connecting people in our communities to healthcare appointments and social opportunities.

We welcome DfT’s announcement increasing the funding for Community Transport organisations and are pleased that the DfT has listened to the needs of the community transport sector and responded by increasing this essential funding.”