Bus cuts ‘could spell the end’ – Campaign for Better Transport

Local bus networks could face collapse if the upcoming spending review sees further cuts to funding, the Campaign for Better Transport has warned.

A Freedom of Information request to the DfT shows that removing the bus service operators grant (BSOG) would cost the economy £3.7bn by 2022 and result in one in seven bus journeys being cancelled.

A 25% cut in local council support for buses would reduce passenger journeys by 14%, including evening and Sunday services, and in smaller towns. Over thirty organisation, including the Campaign for Better Transport, have written to the Chancellor George Osborne calling for spending on buses to be safeguarded.

Stephen Joseph, chief executive, Campaign for Better Transport said: “If Government swings the axe at bus funding again it could spell the end for whole networks of services. There will be grave impacts on employment, education and communities. Campaign for Better Transport is calling on the Government to protect bus funding and avoid cuts which would tip many vital services over the edge.”

But Cllr Peter Box, chairman of the Local Government Association’s Economy and Transport Board, said: “The Bus Service Operators Grant has long been an inefficient way to support bus services – it spends public money subsidising already profitable routes while doing little to maintain services that are equally important but less financially viable.

“With less money available, we need to be more strategic and flexible in how we use it. Instead of the current inefficient top-down approach, it should be local areas that decide on which services this money is spent.

“Local authorities are already showing they can get far more bang for their buck with transport spending. It is councils that are best placed to manage and invest in roads and integrate buses, trains, trams and cycling schemes to suit the diverse needs of businesses and communities.”

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