Buses in crisis: Cuts see routes dwindle - despite people using them more than all other forms of public transport in Britain
In bigger towns and cities only one service in 20 receives support, while in some rural areas almost every bus is subsidised
Simon Calder’s career in travel started at Gatwick Airport, where he cleaned aircraft for Laker Airways and later worked as a security officer. He became The Independent’s Travel Correspondent in 1994, and is known as “the Man Who Pays His Way” because he does not accept free travel facilities. He writes across the Independent titles, as well as for the Evening Standard.
Wednesday 11 December 2013
Cuts to bus services across the country are now reaching “critical levels” as councils look to make easy savings to cope with falling Government subsidies, a new report warns today.
As many as 47 per cent of local authorities in England and Wales have reduced their support for buses for this year, while next year is likely to be even worse, according to the report by the Campaign for Better Transport (CBT).
Three councils have stopped supporting services altogether and others might follow, it predicts.
Outside London, bus operators choose the routes and levels of service that they wish to provide on a commercial basis.
Local authorities then determine where the gaps are and can choose to provide subsidies for services to fill these gaps. In bigger towns and cities only one service in 20 receives support, while in some rural areas almost every bus is subsidised.
Council leaders say that between 2010 and 2015, Government funding to local authorities will be cut by 43 per cent in real terms, which is more than twice the level of cuts to Government as a whole. This, they say, means that they have to take tough decisions on which services to maintain and which to discontinue.
Transport campaigners warn that bus subsidies are an easy target for reductions in support compared to other areas such as children's services. CBT public transport campaigner Martin Abrams said: “This is a watershed moment. If Government doesn't take action to help support buses, we will see whole networks disappear.”
The report's recommendations include introducing minimum access standards, having a new approach to funding, bringing in long-term investment and increasing patronage through the Government fully funding concessionary travel for the young and old.
Tracy Battensby, who is campaigning to save a route in North Yorkshire, said: “Many people depend on this service to access work, school, tourist facilities and health services. There is no viable alternative available to this route and it will leave many people struggling to get to work and school.”
A Department for Transport spokesperson said: “Local authorities are best placed to decide how to provide supported bus services - reflecting local needs and within available budgets.”
The largest potential reductions are in the capital. The CBT says Transport for London has drawn up plans to cut one-fifth from the London bus subsidy by 2016-17, amounting to £65m. Oxfordshire County Council has been consulting on significant cuts to 24 services.
In Wales, bus operators are reimbursed for passengers using concessions but the rate paid is likely to fall from next April.
- 1 Avengers: Age of Ultron: Nearly 700 German cinemas refuse to show movie
- 2 Donald Trump decides that Baltimore riots are Barack Obama's fault
- 3 X Factor in crisis as numbers of people auditioning plummets
- 4 General Election 2015: Stephen Hawking says he will vote Labour
- 5 Baltimore riots: Furious mother marches her son home live on TV
Bali Nine executions live: Indonesian firing squad shoots dead eight drug offenders despite outcry around world, but a ninth is spared
Keith Harris dead: Orville the Duck ventriloquist dies aged 67 following battle with cancer
The four utterly contradictory polls that tell the story of this election and why it is pointless trying to predict the outcome
Donald Trump decides that Baltimore riots are Barack Obama's fault
General Election 2015: Prospect of Labour-SNP coalition makes one in four voters less likely to support Ed Miliband, says survey
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
The sickening truth about food banks that the Tories don't want you to know
Aaron and Melissa Klein: Oregon anti-gay bakers ordered to pay $135,000 after refusing to make cake for same-sex wedding
EU exit would hit UK economy much harder than neighbouring countries, study finds
Andrew Lloyd Webber: Phantom of the Opera writer mocked after issuing a warning about Ed Miliband and Nicola Sturgeon
General election 2015: Labour will toughen hate crimes legislation surrounding Islamophobia
£23000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This firm of accountants based ...
£30000 - £38000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are a financial services c...
£30000 - £32000 per annum + car allowance and on call: Ashdown Group: A succes...
£15000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Well established small company ...