Bus services in ‘crisis’ as cash-starved councils cut funding, campaigners warn
From The Guardian: Campaigners have called for the government to act to help dwindling bus services, as a report showed council funding had almost halved since 2010.
Budgets to subsidise routes were reduced by another £20m last year and 188 services were cut, according to the Campaign for Better Transport.
Its Buses in Crisis report found that squeezed local authorities across England and Wales had taken £182m away from supported bus services over the decade, affecting more than 3,000 bus routes.
Council funding has preserved funding for services, particularly in rural areas, that private firms have deemed unviable, and where no alternative public transport exists, accounting for more than one in five journeys. But most either cut funding – or spent nothing – last year.
Spokesman Steve Chambers said the research showed “the slow death of the supported bus”, with huge implications for people accessing jobs and education, as well as local economies, health, congestion and air pollution. He added: “The government must wake up to the crisis hitting local buses before it’s too late. We want to see a proper national strategy for buses backed up by funding, like those that already exist for all other modes of transport.”
The Local Government Association said it recognised the importance of buses but that councils had been put in an impossible position by the funding squeeze.
The bus remains the biggest mode of public transport, although passenger journeys declined to below 5 billion across Britain last year and central grant funding to operators has also been cut.