Bus cuts 'would hit vulnerable'
Published on 04 June 2013 11:30 AM
Vulnerable people would be hit the hardest if the Government cuts spending on bus services, campaigners have warned.
1 in 7 bus journeys would be lost if key Government funds are dropped, according to the Campaign for Better Transport (CBT).
The cut in bus services would also hit the economy by £3.7 billion due to lost time and revenue, the group claims.
Maintain funding plea
Several organisations, including the CBT, have written to Chancellor George Osborne urging him to maintain funding for bus services in his spending review later this month.
The Department for Transport recently responded to a freedom of information request from CBT by stating that the Treasury could save £1.8bn over nine years by removing the Bus Service Operators Grant (BSOG), through which the Government funding is paid.
However, the CBT says the Government's figures show such a move would also be associated with the £3.7bn loss.
'End of whole networks'
The group also points out that various cuts to BSOG have already been made and reducing it any further could mean many evening services, Sunday buses and services in smaller towns would be affected.
'It could spell the end for whole networks of services,' said CBT chief executive Stephen Joseph.
'There will be grave impacts on employment, education and communities,' he continued. 'We are calling on the Government to protect bus funding and avoid cuts which would tip many vital services over the edge.'
The letter to Mr Osborne is signed by over 30 organisations, including the Royal National Institute of Blind People, the National Federation of Women's Institutes, the National Pensioners' Convention and the National Union of Students.
Age UK's response
Commenting on proposed cuts and the threat to vulnerable people, Michelle Mitchell, Charity Director General of Age UK said,
'Affordable and reliable bus services are a lifeline for older people, many of whom would otherwise find themselves stranded at home, isolated and lonely.
'The bus pass, we believe is invaluable in keeping older people engaged in their communities but for the scheme to work, there need to be buses for older people to travel on.
'Older people must be able to lead independent and fulfilling lives which means being able to get to their local shops, doctors, hospital appointments and visit friends and family.
'We call on the Government, local authorities and bus companies to commit to protecting access to transport for all older people - particularly those in rural areas - who are most likely to be isolated.'
Copyright Press Association 2013