Local authority bus budgets cut by 45%

5 Jul 18

Local authority bus budgets in England and Wales have been cut by 45% - £182m – since 2010/11, according to a transport campaign group.

The Campaign for Better Transport, in analysis released on Monday, said funding for supported buses dropped by £20.5m last year – the eight year in a row budgets have been cut.

Steve Chambers, Campaign for Better Transport’s public transport campaigner, said: “The slow death of supported bus continues, with local authority bus budgets suffering yet another cut this year.”

He added that losing a bus service can have “huge implications” for a community, such as preventing commuters getting to work, affecting peoples’ mental and physical health and wellbeing, and an inevitable effect on congestion and air pollution.

Martin Tett, the Local Government Association’s transport spokesman, said: “It’s nearly impossible for councils to keep subsidising free travel while having to find billions of pounds worth of savings and protect other vital services like caring for the elderly and disabled, protecting children, filling potholes and collecting bins.

“Faced with significant funding pressures, many across the country are being forced into taking difficult decisions to scale back services and review subsidised routes.”

A government spokesperson said: “We provide around £250m every year to support bus services and a further £1bn to support older and disabled people using the free bus pass scheme, benefitting people up and down the country.”

The research was based on data obtained from Freedom of Information requests sent to all 110 local transport authorities in England and Wales. 

It showed 3,088 bus services in England and 259 in Wales have been reduced, altered or withdrawn since 2010-11. 

Supported buses are services that are subsidised by local authorities because they are not provided by commercial bus companies in the area. 

The campaigning group also found in England 64% of local authorities reduced or spent nothing on supported bus services last year - that figure was 82% for Welsh local authorities.

Chambers added: “Ultimately, policies and funding need to ensure people have access to an affordable and reliable bus network, wherever they live, so they can get access to the jobs, education, health and other services they need.”

The report concluded that buses were the only form of transport in England not to have a long term investment strategy.

The Department for Transport has been contacted for comment.

Last week, parliament’s transport committee highlighted a disproportionate amount of transport spending goes to the capital.

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