Cuts bite deeper

Despite the legal requirement to provide socially necessary services, local authorities are increasingly cutting subsidised bus travel in an effort to make vital cuts to their budgets.

Nottingham and Derby are among some of the latest casualties, with funding for concessionary card holders on the Nottingham to Derby Red Arrow service having now been cut, with Derby City Council threatening to follow suit on services of its own.

In Shepperton, which was until recently home to Bus Users HQ, major cuts to services are being proposed and over 3,200 people have signed a petition protesting wider cuts across Surrey.

More and more often, these cuts are being carried out in areas of social need where the people affected are the most vulnerable. While commercial operations clearly cannot be expected to fund services at a loss, local authorities have a duty in law to ensure that disadvantaged people have access to shops, family, friends, education and healthcare, without being dependent on the kindness of neighbours or the unacceptable level of expense of a taxi.

Claire Walters, Chief Executive of Bus Users, does not believe such extensive cuts to subsidised services will stand up to legal scrutiny, describing them as unkind and unsustainable: “It is unthinkable that in 2016, people are being left isolated from friends and family, cut off from vital services and without access to work, education, even healthcare. While Councils may be saving money in the short-term, the long-term cost on already over-stretched local authority support services will be far greater.”

Bus Users is calling on Local Authorities to recognise their duties under Section 63 of the 1985 Transport Act, along with requirements under the Equalities Act 2010, to provide socially necessary services, and has contacted Councils in each of these areas to reconsider their proposals.
Passengers also need to take urgent action and write to their Local Authorities and get in touch with their nearest Bus User Group, details of which can be found on our website at www.bususers.org/localgroups

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