Sunday, 05 June 2016 20:59

Chance to shape transport network

Written by  Ruralcity Media
Chance to shape transport network

Rural communities have an opportunity to help shape the public and school transport in Dorset.

Dorset County Council is asking people for their views on proposals for a more flexible transport network that can better meet local needs while reducing the cost to taxpayers.

The county council's current budget for public and school transport is around £10m. In February, it agreed to save £500,000 on rural bus services and pledged to support communities to develop local transport links.

But continued financial pressure means the council says it must further reduce its transport budget by a total of £1.85m in the next financial year.

This includes £1m on public bus routes and £850,000 on school transport.

Between now and Friday 22 July, residents can have their say on a range of proposals, including:

* prioritising funding on routes that serve the most people and do most to support Dorset's economy
* opening up more school services to the public, helping rural residents get to and from Dorset's market towns
* working closely with community transport operators, community groups and councillors to develop Dorset's community transport network
* working closely with bus companies to use empty school buses for rural 'in-fill' services between school opening and closing times.

To comment on the proposals, residents are being asked to complete a questionnaire at www.dorsetforyou.com/travel-dorset/bus-services-review.

They can also complete paper questionnaires available at local libraries or by calling 01305 221088.

Peter Finney, the council's cabinet member for environment, infrastructure and highways, said the goal was to develop a modern transport network that made best use of reducing resources.

Councillor Finney suggested it would involve joining up commercial, public and community services to support the economy and keep people connected.

"We can't afford to keep our current public bus network, which is neither effective nor sustainable with the level of funding reductions we face.

"We are keen for the widest possible range of people to have their say by letting us know where and when they travel and how the proposals could affect them.

"People's comments will be used to decide how we move forwards and help to form the future shape of Dorset's transport network."

The council's cabinet will consider the consultation results and make a decision in September.

Any changes to services would come into place in summer 2017.

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