Bus Services Operators' Grant

The Bus Service Operators’ Grant (BSOG) scheme is a discretionary grant that subsidises commercial and community bus routes.  This is an annual subsidy comprising of a core payment and an incentive for the operation of green, environmentally friendly buses. BSOG contributes to the maintenance of the nation’s bus networks for the benefit of passengers. BSOG core payment aims to support operators to keep fares at affordable levels and networks more extensive than would otherwise be the case.  The green incentive helps with the additional running costs of low emission buses, to support their uptake by operators.

BSOG also contributes to the operation of Community Transport organisations allowing people who cannot make use of conventional bus services to access local services.

Full terms and conditions for the Bus Service Operators Grant are set out in the BSOG guidance. This also includes guidance on how to complete the relevant claim forms and bus fleet information required for processing payments.  

We have administered BSOG in Scotland since 1 April 2010, and continue to keep BSOG under review to ensure it remains in line with its strategic objectives.

How the scheme works

Bus operators must register with the BSOG scheme before they can submit a claim for the grant. Commercial bus operators, most of whom claim yearly in advance, receive monthly payments on estimates throughout their claim year. They are then required to complete and submit an annual certified claim form. Should any significant change occur during the claim year they must submit a revised estimate claim to allow a recalculation of the grant entitlement and payment adjustments as required.

Advance estimate payments are conditional upon a certified claim being submitted within 3 months of the end of the claim year to which the estimate refers. Failure to submit a certified claim within the required time will result in future estimate payments being withheld.

All operators claim years are aligned with the financial year (1 April - 31 March).

Community transport organisations always claim twice yearly in arrears for set 6-month periods (1 October - 31 March and 1 April - 30 September).

Core payments

The core payment element of BSOG remains unchanged. All qualifying claims to BSOG are entitled to receive the core payment element for as long as the bus claimed for is operating and valid registrations and permits are held.

The core rate of BSOG payable is 14.4p per kilometre, BSOG payments are based on distance travelled and calculated using eligible live service kilometres x payment rate. The kilometres travelled between depots and the start or end of the route are not eligible for the grant and should not be included in any claim.

BSOG Low Carbon Vehicle (LCV) incentive payments

Buses qualifying for the BSOG LCV receive an incentive rate of 10.1p per kilometre. The BSOG LCV incentive is ending and is being replaced by a new incentive payment (details below). A transitional arrangement is in place for the BSOG LCV scheme. As at 1 April 2019, entitlement to BSOG LCV will be time limited to a maximum period of 5 years. This is calculated from the date the vehicle came into operation. As at 1 April 2019, where a bus has already received 5 years of BSOG LCV payments, the bus will no longer be eligible. Buses that have not yet received 5 years of BSOG LCV payments will continue to be eligible until the 5 year limit is reached. Buses that have received BSOG LCV are not eligible for the BSOG LEV scheme.

BSOG Low Emission Vehicle (LEV) incentive payments

From 1 April 2019, the BSOG LEV will be open to all new low emission buses. Eligibility for the new rates are based on the level of greenhouse gas emissions saved and a vehicles zero emission capability. The new incentive weights support to buses that offer the greatest environmental benefits. Entitlement for the BSOG LEV incentive is capped at a maximum period of 5 years starting from the date that the vehicle came into operation. 

The minimum threshold to receive the BSOG LEV incentive is that of the Low Emission Bus standard. Further bands and rates apply for buses with greater emission savings and zero emission capability. The relevant thresholds for each band and rate are set out in the following table.  The % saving detailed in the table refers to the well to wheel (WTW) greenhouse gas (GHG) saving versus the equivalent standard diesel vehicle. This table also provides the equivalent standards between the LEB and ULEB accreditation schemes.

  Eligibility threshold
Band  Rate LEB Certification ULEB Certification
A LEB  5 pence/km 15%-35% saving vs Euro V 15%-29% saving vs Euro VI
B ULEB  10 pence/km 36%+ saving vs Euro V 30%+ saving vs Euro VI
ZEC  15 pence/km

36%+ saving vs Euro V & 2.5km zero emission range* with geo fence capability

30%+ saving vs Euro VI & 2.5km zero emission range* with geo fence capability

C EZEB  30 pence/km

36%+ saving vs Euro V & 50km zero emission range

30%+ saving vs Euro VI & 50km zero emission range

*2.5km zero emission range from the “inner urban” phase of the UK Bus Cycle

(LEB – Low Emission Bus; ULEB – Ultra Low Emission Bus; ZEC – Zero Emission Capable; EZEB – Effectively Zero Emission Bus)

Contact information

For enquiries about the Bus Service Operators’ Grant, please email: bsog@transport.gov.scot