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Bus service cuts at "critical level"
Cuts to bus services are reaching “critical levels”, according to a report by the Campaign for Better Transport (CBT).
West Sussex County Council was one of ten local authorities highlighted for slashing bus support by more than 10% year on year.
CBT public transport campaigner Martin Abrams said: “Cuts to bus services are now reaching critical levels. We have seen services lost year on year and with further deep cuts planned next year, some authorities may stop supporting buses altogether.
“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.
“They may not be as politically sexy as big transport projects but they make a significant difference to the economy, the environment and to wider society.
“It would be a disaster if whole networks were allowed to disappear.”
West Sussex County Council is expected to make savings of £26.4 million in 2013/14, it revealed in January this year.
In 2011 the local authority announced which bus subsidies were to be reduced during the first phase of a three-year plan to reduce support for non-commercial routes by £2 million.
The CBT report’s recommenda- tions include introducing minimum access standards, having a new approach to funding, bringing in long-term investment and increasing patronage through the Government fully funding concessionary travel.
Peter Box, chairman of the Local Government Association economy and transport board, said: “Councils know how important local bus services are to their communities and have been working hard to protect them where possible.
“However, they are contending with 43% budget cuts, reductions to bus-related grants and the spiralling cost of the concessionary travel scheme which Government has never properly funded.
“Many councils simply cannot afford to subsidise bus companies to operate unprofitable routes at the levels they once did.
“Where bus companies stop running services, councils will look at other ways of helping people who used them, such as supporting community transport schemes and co- ordinating with local health service fleets.”
West Sussex County Council was unavailable for comment at the time of publication.
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