Bus services threatened by council funding shortfalls

daodao

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6 Feb 2016
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Dunham/Bowdon
The BBC is reporting today that:
Covid leaves UK councils with £3bn financial black hole.

The article goes onto state that:
Savings will see the threshold for which disabled or elderly individuals can receive care raised, bus services scrapped and children's centres closed in parts of the UK. Fees and charges for parking, planning and crematoria are set to rises in places.

Should councils that still subsidise selected bus services follow the example of Cumbria County Council and Stoke-on-Trent City Council in withdrawing such subsidies entirely?

There is certainly profligacy in Greater Manchester, where TfGM provides a tangle of subsidised routes (generally hourly, often including evenings/weekends), some serving roads where there are alternative commercial services running not far away. TfGM could also save future expenditure by scrapping the stupid franchising proposals.

A local example is the 280 series of all day routes radiating from Altrincham town centre; the evening and Sunday services could all be cut (apart from the key route 288 from Altrincham to the Airport via Hale Barns) with little adverse effect, given how empty these buses appear to be and the short distances they run. Cheshire East Council does not support equivalent services in Crewe and Macclesfield on evenings and Sundays.
 
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carlberry

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Joined
19 Dec 2014
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2,994
The BBC is reporting today that:


The article goes onto state that:


Should councils that still subsidise selected bus services follow the example of Cumbria County Council and Stoke-on-Trent City Council in withdrawing such subsidies entirely?

There is certainly profligacy in Greater Manchester, where TfGM provides a tangle of subsidised routes (generally hourly, often including evenings/weekends), some serving roads where there are alternative commercial services running not far away. TfGM could also save future expenditure by scrapping the stupid franchising proposals.

A local example is the 280 series of all day routes radiating from Altrincham town centre; the evening and Sunday services could all be cut (apart from the key route 288 from Altrincham to the Airport via Hale Barns) with little adverse effect, given how empty these buses appear to be and the short distances they run. Cheshire East Council does not support equivalent services in Crewe and Macclesfield on evenings and Sundays.
It's not really a question of 'should'. As bus services are not one of the services they legally have to provide (like schools/social care/refuse) then, when they have no money left, it's one of the areas they can legally cut. Thankfully the government has taken care of this by pushing a lot of extra costs onto councils via the latest bus changes (whichever way they react to them) leaving even less money available.
 
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1 Aug 2014
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There IS a statutory duty on the relevant local authorities - but it isn't much of a duty.

Transport Act 1985, Section 63(1)(a), explains that local transport authorities must

secure the provision of such public passenger transport services as the council consider it appropriate to secure to meet any public transport requirements within the county which would not in their view be met apart from any action taken by them for that purpose

The Campaign for Better Transport has a useful note outlining legal guidance that they received on the issue. My reading is that an authority could be open to challenge if they completely stopped doing anything to ensure service to a community, but that providing a figleaf service (like a very thinly provisioned Demand-Responsive Transport service) would probably be adequate to keep them out of trouble.
 

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