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Bus cuts would be "a disaster" says campaign group
A CAMPAIGN group has hit out at Worcestershire’s £3m bus cuts - saying it would “be a disaster” if the services disappeared.
The Campaign for Better Transport says councils across the country are allowing bus cuts to reach “critical levels”.
The group has unearthed information revealing that up to 10 counties are considering scrapping all subsidised transport next year - cutting £48m slashed from spending.
Worcestershire County Council has already launched a consultation to remove its entire £3m yearly subsidy from 88 bus services next September, running on 43 routes.
The group says councils in Oxfordshire, Cumbria, North Yorkshire, Dorset, Essex and Nottinghamshire are among those looking to do the same.
Martin Abrams, from the Campaign for Better Transport, said: “Cuts to bus services are now reaching critical levels.
“We have seen services lost year-on-year and with further deep cuts planned next year, some authorities may stop supporting buses altogether.
"This is a watershed moment - if the Government doesn't take action to help support buses, we will see whole networks disappear.
"Politicians both locally and in Westminster need to understand how important buses are.
"They may not be as politically sexy as big transport projects but they make a significant difference to the economy, the environment and to wider society.
“It would be a disaster if whole networks were allowed to disappear.”
Counties making year-on-year cuts of more than 10 per cent to support for buses include Shropshire, Hertfordshire, Cambridgeshire, West Berkshire, Hampshire, Surrey, West Sussex, Wiltshire, Dorset and Gloucestershire.
A report by the campaign group recommends launching new minimum standards for subsidised buses, and increasing their popularity by increasing the take-up of concessionary travel.
The funding set for the chop in Worcestershire includes the two park and ride services in Worcester, at Sixways and Perdiswell.
The county council is still talking to operators about saving some services by charging higher fares, altering routes, or both.
Councillor John Smith, the cabinet member for highways and transportation, said: “We all know the Government is reducing funding to all local authorities and we’re having to pull back our horses.
“We’ve had to look at every area of spending, this isn’t an easy or popular thing to do.
“Some routes cost us £8-£9 per passenger and that isn’t a good use of resources.
“If by talking to operators, we can make some of these routes commercially viable that’s what we’ll do.”
The services under threat include swathes of weekend and evening buses, affecting every town and city in the county as well as rural areas.
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