Thursday, 14 May 2015 14:18

Council consults on bus subsidy changes

Written by  Ruralcity Media
Council consults on bus subsidy changes

NORTH Yorkshire County Council is consulting on proposals to reduce the amount it spends subsidising bus services.

At the same time, the local authority is setting out plans to extend already successful community transport solutions across the county.

The county council says decreases in government funding means it is considering reduce the amount spent on subsidising bus services by a further £500,000.

This would reduce the amount the authority spends supporting public transport to £1.5m a year.

While services would be retained, this will lead to a reduction in the number of journeys available in some areas.

But the consultation also provides scope for the authority to respond to local issues and to extend innovative community transport initiatives.

It says doing so would help overcome any reduction in conventional bus services, help people live independently and alleviate issues of social isolation.

"We have to make difficult decisions due to the level of savings we must continue to find across the authority," said county councillor Chris Metcalfe, executive member for integrated passenger transport.

"But this necessity has led us to think about how we can deliver services differently, working in new and pioneering ways with partners in the public and voluntary sectors.

The consultation documents are available here.

The county council says it would provide funding to ensure that every part of North Yorkshire has access to a voluntary community car scheme.

This would enable people in market towns and villages to maintain social access and attend important appointments, it says.

Volunteers would use their own cars to provide community transport and be reimbursed by their passengers.

Such schemes are already successfully in use in a number of places in the county - and the council says it would support interested communities with best practice guidance.

The consultation proposal also sets out a number of services where currently subsidised routes could be covered by the authority's own fleet of minibuses.

North Yorkshire is one of the few authorities in the country to use its own fleet as a solution to bus subsidy reductions.

The authority would invite local communities to put forward volunteer drivers to increase the fleet's capacity further.

Today the county council operates 65 modern vehicles and some of these are used to provide 11 local bus services which carry over 500 passengers each day. The proposals would lead to an expansion of the fleet and passenger journeys.

Councillor Metcalfe said: "We know that many people are upset by proposals to reduce bus subsidies and we understand their concerns for maintaining access to essential services and maintaining social contact.

"We too have these concerns and that is why we are also putting forward innovative solutions for people to consider.

"We will listen carefully to people's views during the consultation and we hope to be able to respond positively to address people's concerns where possible."

People in this conversation

  • Guest (christine hill)

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    this news was delivered to passengers in burton leonard by a driver. It caused great distress. One neighbour registered blind and her husband just lost license due eye problems is left stranded and is devastated. Another will not be able to go to work now. THis problem is not one just for the elderly. My niece at 17 lost her license for 18 months after she had an epileptic fit. Villages pay extra council tax in a precept. WHat for ?? nothing it appears

    from Harrogate, North Yorkshire HG3, UK

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