Raft of buses to be saved across Worcestershire in £1.1m rescue plan

Buses: an extra £1.1m found by Worcestershire County Council

Buses: an extra £1.1m found by Worcestershire County Council

First published in News
Last updated
Worcester News: Tom Edwards by , Political Reporter

A WAVE of threatened bus routes across Worcestershire are going to be saved - as council chiefs performed a significant u-turn on slashing an entire £3 million subsidy today.

After an unprecedented 8,500 responses over proposals to axe the subsidy to 97 buses, Worcestershire County Council has found £1.1 million to plug some of the gap.

The surprise move, which comes after weeks of pressure from campaigners, will see the routes deemed to be the most "essential" for people getting to work, school and the hospitals saved from the axe.

The development comes after your Worcester News revealed how schools, colleges, the NHS in Worcestershire, bus campaign bodies, operators, community groups, councils and massive numbers of people called for a reprieve.

The £1.1m, which is a provisional amount and could yet go up or down, will be made available from September, the month when the bus cuts will start.

Talks with operators will go into a new phase from now until the summer, with the council's Conservative leadership saying it wants the extra cash to fund the most important routes.

While it will not save all the routes, the cash will go a long way to securing the future of some services people have voiced most concern about.

The funding announcement was made during a cabinet meeting today, where public speakers turned up once again to plead for help.

Les Roberts, an Upton resident, said: "Every single bus service in Upton is a subsidised route.

"It you go ahead and remove the subsidy it is very likely Upton will have no bus services at all, which will be disastrous for the town.

"Residents fear very greatly for the future if this intent is carried through.

"Car ownership is far from universal, it will be a disaster."

Student Luke Bessant, 17, from Norton, who attends Pershore High School, said: "Taking away buses would limit the choice of school for many students like myself.

"Due to the infrequency of buses at the moment, many students get parents to drive them to school - surely reducing buses would only make this worse."

Operators will be expected to save some routes on their own by altering service frequencies or putting up prices.

But hopes are high that the £1.1 million will go some way to helping the situation.

Councillor Adrian Hardman, the leader, said the consultation response was "staggering".

"It will take a considerable amount of time to analyse the reponses but we are determined to end up with a sustainable, fair bus network," he said.

"We have listened to what people have said."

Councillor John Smith, the cabinet member for highways and transportation, said: "We're aware of the need for people to get to work, hospitals, schools, and we'll do all we can to meet the need for that.

"Each route needs to be looked at, and every response."

The £3 million public transport subsidy funds Worcester's two park and rides, and swathes of evening and weekend services, as well as scores of urban routes.

It makes up 20 per cent of the total bus network in Worcestershire.

A report is due out in May or June about what routes have been saved.

Comments (5)

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3:23pm Thu 6 Feb 14

Bufton Tufton says...

In this weather a raft would certainly be useful.
In this weather a raft would certainly be useful. Bufton Tufton
  • Score: 8

5:32pm Thu 6 Feb 14

newike says...

For every bus service scrapped, it may well be that some additional people will have to travel by car to Worcester. With car parking going up it may well be an expensive visit so they may try the Park and Ride. Oops it might not be there. Okay then they won't visit Worcester and trade will be lost. With every action there will be a re-action. We could have fewer people visit the city. Parking income will go down instead of up and people with work in the city may well tour the outskirts and park along any road they can find and walk the rest of the way. The result, unhappy residents. Great some money has been found to save some routes, but how deeply have the consequences been considered for the future of a city which is expanding not contracting.
For every bus service scrapped, it may well be that some additional people will have to travel by car to Worcester. With car parking going up it may well be an expensive visit so they may try the Park and Ride. Oops it might not be there. Okay then they won't visit Worcester and trade will be lost. With every action there will be a re-action. We could have fewer people visit the city. Parking income will go down instead of up and people with work in the city may well tour the outskirts and park along any road they can find and walk the rest of the way. The result, unhappy residents. Great some money has been found to save some routes, but how deeply have the consequences been considered for the future of a city which is expanding not contracting. newike
  • Score: 3

9:33am Fri 7 Feb 14

reflector says...

Surely this can't be the old negotiating ploy of proposing something far worse than you are prepared to settle for, do a consultation exercise then 'find' a small pot of money, say you have listened to the people and sit back and accept the plaudits for 'saving' us from even worse cuts?

Yes it can.
Surely this can't be the old negotiating ploy of proposing something far worse than you are prepared to settle for, do a consultation exercise then 'find' a small pot of money, say you have listened to the people and sit back and accept the plaudits for 'saving' us from even worse cuts? Yes it can. reflector
  • Score: 3

11:30am Fri 7 Feb 14

caer caradoc says...

What the bus huggers don't realise, is that the money has to come from some where.
What the bus huggers don't realise, is that the money has to come from some where. caer caradoc
  • Score: 3

3:53pm Fri 7 Feb 14

Andy_R says...

An actual raft of buses might be really useful this weekend, we could run on the tops of them to get across the flooded river.
An actual raft of buses might be really useful this weekend, we could run on the tops of them to get across the flooded river. Andy_R
  • Score: 2

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