Consultation over future of subsidised bus journeys to take place

The future of subsidised bus services in Lichfield and Burntwood is being debated.

People are being urged to have their say on how £1.3million of funding for such routes is spent across the region.

Staffordshire County Council says its preferred option is to maintain as many subsidised services as possible – but it has refused to rule out scrapping bus subsidies completely.

A consultation has been launched after the authority revealed that it currently pays as much as £10 per passenger, per journey to keep some routes running.

Around 10% of trips made across the county are subsidised.

Four options have now been put forward:

  • Maintain the greatest number of journeys currently subsidised by the county council – and the lowest subsidy per passenger trip at £1.60. There would be no Dial-A-Ride services.
  • Maintain fewer bus journeys, but maintain the South Staffordshire and Staffordshire Moorlands Connect. These Dial-A-Ride services would be subsidised at £8.20 per passenger trip.
  • Protect even fewer supported local bus services, but keeps all four existing Dial-A-Ride services, except Border Car, at an £8.80 subsidy per trip.
  • Provide a county-wide network of dial-a-ride services at an average cost of £10 per passenger journey. No other bus journeys will be subsidised

 

Cllr Mark Deaville, Staffordshire County Council’s Cabinet member responsible for transport, said: “All bus journeys in Staffordshire are operated by private bus companies or voluntary and community groups – and 90 per cent of these are made without any subsidy.

“However, some people might be surprised to hear that we do still subsidise some journeys on buses by much as £10 per passenger trip because they can’t be run on a commercial basis.

“As a county council we have to balance how much of taxpayers’ money we can afford to spend on subsiding travel against the need to protect the funding of statutory services such as adult social care. This year we will need to spend a record £300m on care alone.

“Some authorities have stopped subsidising buses, but in Staffordshire £1.3m will still be spent on this next year and the public consultation is the chance for people to have their say on subsidised bus travel and how the budget we have available for next year can be best spent.”

The consultation will go live on July 24 and run until September 17. To have your say visit www.staffordshire.gov.uk/busreview

A final decision on the future of subsidised bus services will be made by Staffordshire County Council’s Cabinet in the autumn, before being implemented in April 2018.

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