“Threat to buses as councils fear £5 billion shortfall
Nearly half of all subsidised bus routes in England are under threat, the LGA has warned. Councils in England face an overall funding gap that is expected to exceed £5 billion by 2020 and are struggling to maintain current subsidies for bus routes across the country, which could leave many people isolated. The concessions come at the cost of other discretionary subsidised bus services – such as free peak travel, community transport services and post-16 school transport – and other services like collecting bins and filling potholes.
Cllr Martin Tett, the LGA’s Transport spokesman, said: “It’s nearly impossible for councils to keep subsidising free travel while having to find billions of pounds worth of savings and protect other vital services. The way the concessionary travel scheme is funded by government has not kept up with growing demand and cost. Councils are being forced to subsidise the scheme by at least £200 million a year. By giving councils control over the Bus Service Operators’ Grant, and properly funding national free bus pass schemes, the Government could help us maintain our essential bus services, reduce congestion and protect vital routes.”
LGA Resources Board Vice Chairman Cllr John Fuller discussed the story on ITV’s Good Morning Britain. LGA Vice Chairman Cllr Marianne Overton and Deputy Chairman Cllr Peter Fleming have recorded interviews for BBC local radio and Five News, respectively.
Source: Express p17, Mirror p13