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Bus Services Bill should ensure councils protect rural services

The Bus Services Bill should include new powers to require local authorities to protect bus services in rural areas, the Campaign for Better Transport said.

The campaign group said that the Bill should require local authorities to carry out an assessment of the need for public transport in their area to prevent them from cutting bus services that people rely on.

In addition, it said that the government should implement the Total Transport approach, where schools, hospitals and local authorities work together in discussions on public transport, across all local areas.

Stephen Joseph, chief executive of Campaign for Better Transport, said: “Public transport cuts can have a devastating impact on rural areas. If you don't have access to a car, the chances are you're reliant on buses to get you to school, to hospital, to friends or to the shops.

“If that bus service disappears it can leave whole villages completely isolated. The government must use the Bus Services Bill to give rural local authorities the powers and funding to stop communities getting cut off.”

The Bus Services Bill gives local authorities devolved powers over local transport, similar to those already seen in London.

However, it has been criticised for only applying to combined authorities with an elected mayor and for potentially undermining competition between services.

Campaign for Better Transport also said that the power of communities to identify land or buildings as Assets of Community Value, meaning they can require local authorities to protect them from loss or change of use, should also apply to bus and other services.

In addition, it called on the government to deliver a new Bus and Coach Investment Strategy in order to increase the funding local authorities receive for transport.

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