Petition issued to save bus cuts

Services to have subsidies cancelled from Sunday

more than 1,000 people have signed a petition calling on Cambridgeshire County Council (CCC) to protect buses before subsidies are cancelled for 57 routes on Sunday.

The petition presented to the council on Monday is in response to �2.7 million of cuts to the subsidies which will almost certainly mean several routes around Royston and South Cambridgeshire villages become unviable.

The 139 service, which serves Sawston, Foxton and Royston will have its subsidy cut from Sunday, which could lead to operator Stagecoach cancelling the service.

The 128 service between Royston, Bassingbourn, Meldreth, Shepreth and Melbourn, and the 127 between Ashwell, Guilden Morden and Bassingbourn, will also have subsidies cancelled.

Subsidies for the number 31 service between Barley, Chishill, Heydon, Fowlmere, and Cambridge, which is frequently used by college students, will be axed.

This is one of the most expensive services in the county at �87,860 annually.

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Susan van der Ven, county councillor for Foxton, Heydon, Melbourn, Meldreth, Shepreth and the Chishills said: “The buses are so significant because they serve elderly people.

“The 139 service only costs �4,407 a year to run and will deny so many the chance of getting around.

“It makes no sense to cut this bus subsidy. I have asked councillors at the county council how they plan to help students get to college after the bus goes. They did say that maybe the bus operator will still run the bus without the subsidy.

“This would be nice but we’ll have to wait and see. Unfortunately we know that most of the buses under threat are simply not viable without the subsidy.

“These cuts do not mean the buses are being cancelled, just that the subsidies are going.

“But we think that with the exception of about four across the county, none of them is viable without subsidies.”

Tim Stone, county councillor for Foxton, said: “Yes, we do need to save money and yes, bus subsidies may not be the best way to move people about efficiently, but this slash and burn is no way to go about things.”

Liberal Democrat councillor for Cambridge Sarah Brown, who is behind the petition, said: “The Tories are threatening services which are vital for the elderly, disabled, and families.

“They have made this decision to plug a black hole in their finances which they created without any regard for how it impacts on us.”

The free Cambridge City Centre shuttle bus, which was introduced as a condition of the pedestrianisation of Cambridge, will also have subsidies cancelled.

Cllr Mac McGuire, CCC cabinet member for highways and access, said: “It is always difficult to make the decision to cut a service, but with limited funding from Government it is a decision we have had to make.”