Bus service faces uncertain future

PUBLISHED: 11:20 09 February 2011

Tony Charter and Andy Heap, bus drivers on routes around Royston.

Tony Charter and Andy Heap, bus drivers on routes around Royston.

Daniel Wilson

A BUS linking Crow country villages with Royston faces an uncertain future after Cambridgeshire County Council announced plans to axe all public transport funding in a bid to save £2.7m.

The Charter Travel operated 127 service will be affected by the cuts however it is unclear, at the time of going to press, how exactly the timetable and route will be affected.

The service runs between Guilden Morden and Royston and the company estimate that 2,000 people use the service monthly.

Tony Charter, company owner, said: “The council have asked me to make them savings so I have got to list the journeys they can cut but obviously I have handed out questionnaires to the passengers.

“Really at the end of the day it’s the passengers that are going to be affected.

“It’s going to happen, it’s a four yearly plan that the council and central government want, there’s going to be no subsides for bus services.

“It’s going to affect me financially but it’s going to affect my passengers more, it’s their link to the shops and Kneesworth hospital.”

The council plan to phase out all subidised bus services as the authority have to make savings of £160m over five years and £2.7m of this is expected to come from subsidised bus services, the 127 service costs around £158,168 to run annualy.

Councillor Mac McGuire, cabinet member for Highways and Access, said: “We are facing incredibly tough financial times and have to make around £160 million in savings over the next five years, £2.7 million of that from subsidised bus services. The council has no legal duty to run buses and we receive no extra money from government to do so.

“In the past we have helped subsidise some services, such as the 127, but we now receive much less money and need to make sure we have enough funds to help with services, such as those caring for the elderly or young.

“Unlike some councils who are making similar decisions we have launched a transport summit to look at other innovative ways, such as community transport like dial-a-ride in which we may be able to help.

“We are also investing extra money into Community Transport Schemes that can potentially provide a better local and value for money solution than some of the current subsidised conventional bus services.”

A national campaign to protect local public transport, entitled Save our Buses, was launched last week by the Campaign for Better Transport who found that two thirds of English local authorities plan major cuts to their bus budgets.

Sophie Allain, the organisation’s bus campaigner, said: “Cuts on the scale being proposed could have huge implications for local people.

“Buses help people to help themselves; they keep people mobile, link students to study, jobseekers to work, and help elderly people stay active, healthy and self sufficient.

“Councils should consider the social, economic and environmental consequences of a depleted local bus network and explore alternative solutions wherever possible.”

Are you aware of any other services that will be affected by the county council’s proposals if so The Royston Crow want to hear from you, contact us on 01763 244977.

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