Liberal Democrats have today called for the protection of all existing council bus services from any adverse changes in 2017/18.
At next Wednesday’s County Council meeting, Cllr. Nigel Robbins (Cirencester Beeches) will be seeking assurances from Conservative bosses that all existing bus services will remain unaffected from change in the new financial year.
Since 2011, the number of council subsidised bus services operating across Gloucestershire has seen a dramatic reduction from 166 to105 in 2016.
In commenting, Cllr. Robbins said:
“In five years we’ve seen a total loss of 61 bus services. Government spending cuts are having a devastating effect on our local buses. Between 2015/16 and 2016/17 Gloucestershire’s bus services budget was cut by £355K.
“Many of us have seen massive changes with the loss of valuable bus service routes.
“Shockingly out of the 61 subsidised bus services that have been withdrawn, 51 of these have happened in rural areas.
“I represent a rural area and many residents in my own division have contacted me concerned with bus timetable alterations as a result of withdrawn services.
“The county’s bus service plays a vital role to the lives of many residents in different ways.
“We will continue fighting to protect our remaining bus services across the county from any further cuts.”
The Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Finance and Change, Cllr. Klara Sudbury (Charlton Park and College) who will be supporting the call said:
“We have seen both a reduction in budget and a diminishing number of passengers. That’s why at next week’s full council meeting we will be calling for the protection of all existing council bus services and for the government to fully fund the council’s concessionary schemes.
"Shire Hall also needs to work with districts on a campaign to increase passenger numbers headed, up by the council’s Communications Team.
“Buses are an important part of Gloucestershire’s infrastructure and are highly relied upon by many people including elderly and disabled people. Cutting the subsidies for some routes will mean many of these vulnerable bus users being unable to go out to town at certain times such as evenings and weekends.
“In the new financial year there needs to be stability for existing bus users and a clear steer from this council to increase passenger numbers across the county.”
In early 2017, an independent charity, Campaign for Better Transport made over 100 Freedom of Information requests to local councils to get a full picture of recent bus cuts. It was found that funding for buses across England and Wales has been cut by 33% since 2010 and by nearly £30 million in just the last year.
Nationally over 500 routes were reduced or completely withdrawn in 2016/17.