Bus service cuts hit 'critical levels'
Published on 12 December 2013 02:00 PM
Major cuts to bus services could cause problems for older people who rely on buses to get from A to B.
A report by the Campaign for Better Transport (CBT) reveals that as many as 47% of local authorities in England and Wales have reduced their support for buses this year, while three councils have even stopped supporting services altogether.
It warns that next year could be difficult as well, with more services expected to follow suit as finances become tighter.
Politicians ‘need to understand how important buses are'
'Cuts to bus services are now reaching critical levels,' said CBT public transport campaigner Martin Abrams.
'This is a watershed moment. If Government doesn't take action to help support buses, we will see whole networks disappear.
'Politicians, both locally and in Westminster, need to understand how important buses are. They may not be as politically sexy as big transport projects but they make a significant difference to the economy, the environment and to wider society.
'It would be a disaster if whole networks were allowed to disappear.'
The report - Buses In Crisis - is based on responses to Freedom of Information Act requests made to all local transport authorities regarding supported buses.
£17 million of cuts in the budget for support buses
It reveals there have been £17 million of cuts in the budget for support buses in England in the last 12 months, while plans for cuts of £48 million have already been announced for future years.
Shropshire, Hertfordshire, Cambridgeshire, West Berkshire, Hampshire, Surrey, West Sussex, Wiltshire, Dorset and Gloucestershire are among the counties making year-on-year cuts of more than 10% to support for buses.
Southend, Darlington and Hartlepool, meanwhile, have become the first three local authorities to no longer support any bus services.
Report recommends 'a new approach' to funding
To combat the current trend, the report recommends introducing minimum access standards, having a new approach to funding and bringing in long-term investment.
It also advises increasing support through the Government fully funding concessionary travel for the young and old.
Worcestershire, Cumbria, Oxfordshire, North Yorkshire, Dorset, Essex and Nottinghamshire are believed to be some of the counties currently considering cuts.
Transport for London, West Midlands transport authority Centro and the Welsh Government could also reduce support.
Copyright Press Association 2013