Monday, 23 November 2015 20:18

'Steep decline' for local bus services

Written by  Ruralcity Media
'Steep decline' for local bus services

NEW research shows a continued steep decline in council-funded bus services.

The 'Buses in Crisis' report shows that £78m has been axed from local authority bus funding in England and Wales since 2010.

The cuts have resulted in over 2,400 bus services being reduced, altered or withdrawn from service.

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

The report has been released at the same time as a coalition of charities have urged the government to protect buses from any further cuts.

Martin Abrams, of the Campaign for Better Transport, said: "The bus crisis across the country is now causing real hardship for many people.

"Our research shows that in many areas funding cuts have now reached new depths.

"Many places are being left with no bus services at all and even in better served areas our research shows continuing fare rises mean people are being priced off buses.

"Local bus services provide a vital role to the community, he added.

"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."

Some £22.2m has been cut from supported bus funding in England in 2015-16, with £78m (25%) cut from supported bus services in England and Wales since 2010-11.

In England, the largest cuts are being made by Hertfordshire, Surrey, Lancashire, Nottinghamshire, Bristol City Council and East Sussex.

Some 40 local authorities in England and Wales have cut over 10% from their bus funding in 2015/16 with 11 local authorities are now spending nothing on supported bus services.

Mr Abrams continued "Now is the time for central and local government to appreciate the real value of bus services with actions not just words."

Local bus fares in England increased by 61% on average between March 2005 and March 2015.

Bus fares have risen at a faster rate in metropolitan areas (71%) than in non-metropolitan areas (44%).

The Retail Prices Index has risen by 35% over the same period, which means that bus fares have risen significantly in real terms.

The Campaign for Better Transport is calling on central government to support local buses by protecting the Bus Service Operators Grant from further cuts.

For the longer term, it wants the government to put buses on a more secure financial footing.

It says this can be achieved by implementing a 'Connectivity Fund' as well as a "Total Transport" programme to bring together different funding for transport across government.

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