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Bus service cuts 'at critical level'

Wed, 11 Dec 2013

CUTS TO bus services are now reaching "critical levels", according to a report by the Campaign for Better Transport (CBT).

As many as 47% of local authorities in England and Wales have reduced their support for buses for 2013, while the 2014/15 financial year is likely to be a difficult one for bus services, said CBT.

Three councils have stopped supporting services and others might follow, warned the CBT, whose report is entitled Buses In Crisis and is based on responses to Freedom of Information Act requests made to all local transport authorities regarding supported buses.

Key findings in the report include:

:: In the last year there have been £17 million of cuts in the budget for support buses in England. Plans for cuts of £48 million have already been announced for future years, with the likelihood of more to come;

:: Counties making year-on-year cuts of more than 10% to support for buses include Shropshire, Hertfordshire, Cambridgeshire, West Berkshire, Hampshire, Surrey, West Sussex, Wiltshire, Dorset and Gloucestershire;

:: 47% of local authorities have reduced their spending on supported bus provision this year;

:: Southend, Darlington and Hartlepool have become the first three local authorities no longer tosupport any bus services.

In addition, county counties considering cuts include Worcestershire, Cumbria, Oxfordshire, North Yorkshire, Dorset, Essex and Nottinghamshire.

Cuts could be made by Transport for London, West Midlands transport authority Centro and the Welsh Government, the report said.

CBT public transport campaigner Martin Abrams said: "Cuts to bus services are now reaching critical levels.

"This is a watershed moment. If 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.”

By Peter Woodman, Press Association Transport Correspondent