Thursday, 04 February 2016 08:07

Rural bus services 'being wiped out'

Written by  Ruralcity Media
Rural bus services 'being wiped out'

RURAL bus services are being wiped out as local authorities are forced to slash transport budgets, say campaigners.

Millions of pounds cut from essential everyday services were leaving local subsidised bus services across England and Wales, said the Campaign for Better Transport.

Local authorities were proposing to cut more than £27m from local bus budgets over the next few, leaving many rural and isolated communities with little or no bus services at all, it said.

The Campaign for Better Transport launches an interactive online map detailing the scale of the cuts to supported bus services by local authorities across England and Wales since 2010.

    See also: 'Steep decline' for rural bus services'

The map – which is based on the campaign's Buses in Crisis report – allows users to see how budgets for bus services have fallen over the past six years.

It shows that £78m has been axed from local authority bus funding in England and Wales since 2010, resulting in over 2,400 bus services being reduced, altered or withdraw.

Some 63% of local authorities in England and Wales have cut funding for bus services in 2015/16, with 44% reducing or withdrawing services entirely.

Public transport campaigner Martin Abrams said: "Up and down the country utterly devastating cuts are now being inflicted on our vital bus services."

Mr Abrams said the cuts were on a par with the swingeing and misguided cuts the government and Dr Beeching made to the rail network which decimated services back in the 1960s.

"It is a bitter irony that many of the bus services being cut today are historic services that replaced the thousands of rail services that were cut by Dr Beeching."

This meant more and more areas now have no public transport at all.

"Following six years of huge reductions in grants from central government, local authorities are being forced into making ever deeper cuts to bus funding," said Mr Abrams.

"There is real public outrage about the large number of bus services under threat – local buses provide a vital role to the community.

"For some people, especially in rural areas, buses are their only means of getting to work or school, to visit friends or to access shops and public amenities."

The Campaign for Better Transport is calling on the government to explain how its forthcoming Buses Bill will help isolated and rural communities stay connected.

While the Bill will enable much needed improvements for people in metropolitan areas, it said there was increasing worry and uncertainty as to what the future holds for rural bus users.

Mr Abrams said: "With the scale of cuts we are now seeing, urgent action must be taken by the Government to ensure buses have the funding they need and deserve."

Badly hit counties include Lincolnshire, Leicestershire, Derbyshire, Somerset, Dorset, West Berkshire, Wiltshire, Oxfordshire, Hertfordshire, North Yorkshire and Lancashire.

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  • Guest (Roy McMillan)

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    Yes, this is also true of Oxfordshire, where the County Council will be voting next week to confirm a cabinet decision to withdraw - this year - their total bus subsidy budget, which currently supports over 100 rural bus routes across the county. This will leave thousands of rural dwellers without any form of public transport, and in many cases will make it impossible for those without access to a car to get to shops, medical services etc.

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