Local buses face Beeching-style cuts, campaigners warns

4 Feb 16

Bus users face service reductions of a scale comparable with the Beeching cuts to the railway network due to dwindling council support for provision, the Campaign for Better Transport has concluded.


Analysing the impact of local government funding cuts for supported services that are not otherwise economically viable, CBT found that reductions in support would total more than £27m over the next two financial years. This was spread across 11 authorities, and would leave many rural communities isolated with little or no services.

In total, £78m has been cut in funding since 2010, which has already resulted in more than 2,400 bus services being reduced, altered or withdrawn, CBT’s public transport campaigner Martin Abrams said.

“This new research shows that up and down the country utterly devastating cuts are now being inflicted on our vital bus services on a par with the swingeing and misguided cuts the government and Dr Beeching made to our rail network which decimated services back in the 1960s.”

Under Beeching’s plan for the then British Rail, over 55% per cent of rail stations and 30% of route miles were closed.

“It is a bitter irony that many of the bus services being cut today are historic services that replaced the thousands of rail services that were cut by Dr Beeching, meaning more and more areas now have no public transport at all,” Abrams added.

“Following six years of huge reductions in grants from central government, local authorities are being forced into making ever deeper cuts to bus funding and there is real public outrage about the large number of bus services under threat.”

The government is set to bring forward a Buses Bill to allow the combined authorities being created as part of the government’s devolution drive to take responsibility for running local bus services.

Abrams said this would enable much needed improvements for people in metropolitan areas, but the legislation must not ignore people in non-metropolitan areas

“Local buses provide a vital role to the community and 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,” he concluded.

Responding to the report, transport minister Andrew Jones said: “The government protected around £250m of funding for bus services in England, provided through the Bus Service Operators Grant, as part of last year's spending review.

“We are also developing measures in the upcoming Buses Bill so local authorities can deliver improved bus services.”

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