Friday, 24 February 2012

Community And Subsidised Transport Set To Be Radically Altered By The County Council

Cllr Andy Pellew

Council transport chiefs are set to discuss the proposed timescale for reducing non-commercial bus subsidies and replacing them with more targeted local services.

Cambridgeshire County Council Cabinet is set to discuss on March 6 plans to consult with local communities on replacement services before existing subsidies are taken away.

Some 80 per cent of bus services across Cambridgeshire are commercial services with the rest being subsidised by the County Council.

For example Service 19 which serves the villages around Linton costs the tax payer £107,000 a year, equating to £12.09 per passenger trip.

The Council agreed on February 21 to invest £1.5 million in Cambridgeshire Future Transport schemes and to phase out the £2.7 million of existing subsidies.

Cabinet will be asked to agree that consultation should start six months before an existing subsidy is removed on finding alternative and more targeted transport solutions to meet local needs.

These services could not just be used for traditional bus journeys but provide vehicles during the rest of the week for community groups.

Subsidised services have been grouped into 13 geographical areas which have transport links within them. This is so all services can be looked at as a whole and alternatives explored as well as looking at ways of joining into existing networks. This means community transport could link into commercial services and potentially help make some subsidised services commercial.

The areas with the most expensive services are being looked at first as well as those which have the most potential or practical alternatives that can be quickly developed.

Local Parish Councillor Andy Pellew said "The Conservatives are taking a great risk with transport that many people rely on across Cambridgeshire and given the experience of the Duxford pilot things are not looking good. There will always be a few services that the County should stop subsidising, for example where it is paying paying £107,000 for a bus service or over £12 for just one person to take a trip on a bus. No-one can possibly argue with that, but cancelling all subsidies just because some are extreme is massively disproportionate and penalises those in rural communities who rely on public transport."

"Furthermore it's disappointing that this announcement was made before the 'consultation' had even taken place, I hope this isn't another excuse for the County Council to force District and Parish Councils to pay for something they should be paying for".