11/08/2011

MP's report warns of more bus cuts on their way...

A document reviewing local bus services and the effects spending cuts have on bus services has been released by the House Of Commons Transport Committee today.

The report warns that a trio of funding cuts could lead to the biggest financial challenge to the british bus industry in a generation.

The trio of cuts are the 28% reduction in local authority expenditure leading to cuts in subsidised bus services, the 20% reduction in BSOG (Bus Service Operators Grant) from next April and also the reduction in the amount of money paid to bus operators by the government for concessionary bus passes due to a new formula introduced earlier this year.

Decreases in funding due to the above cuts could lead to evening, weekend and some rural buses being cut altogether.

Norfolk County Council are planning to make a further £1 million worth of cuts to subsidised services from next April, they hope to be able to introduce more demand responsive door to door services to replace standard rural bus services in some locations that would be no longer served by regular service buses - NCC say that these types of service are cheaper to run and would also be exempt from the concessionary bus pass scheme, although they have stated that fares would be reasonable and in line with standard bus fares.

The Eastern Daily Press have published a good article on this subject today which includes comments from all the main bus operators in Norfolk - CLICK HERE to read the article

There were also discussions by Graham Plant from Norfolk County Council and the managing directors of a couple of Norfolk bus companies about this report on the BBC Radio Norfolk breakfast show today, I was asked to take part in this by the BBC and you may have heard me talking breifly this morning - I spoke to the BBC yesterday about several different aspects of the bus services and was pleased to hear when I tuned in this morning that the chose to broadcast my view that bus companies are not to blame for these cuts - unfortunatly I have often heard people blaming the bus companies for cuts to subsidised bus services but in many cases it is down to the county council and the government, I hope that with the publication of this document people realise how hard bus companies across the county are being hit and that in most cases the bus companies are working very hard with the county councils and government to minimise cuts to services and want to provide services to as many people as possible.

I just hope that the government will look again at bus services and realise how vital they are to people from all walks of life but especially the eldarly and vunerable people living in rural areas, either way cuts to services are happening, all we can hope is that the close working relationships between county councils and bus companies can minimise cuts as far as possible and where normal services can no longer run look creatively at suitable alternatives such as community transport.