Category Archives: Bus services

Grim state of UK’s bus routes revealed as figures point to 28-year low

The dire situation could get worse with even more routes under threat as Tory cuts bite deeper into town hall budgets.

Bus routes are disappearing almost as fast as railways in the 1960s under the Beeching cuts.

They are already at levels not seen since the 1980s, leaving many people isolated and cut off from towns and cities.

And the dire situation could get worse with even more routes under threat as Tory cuts bite deeper into town hall budgets.

Public transport campaigners and Mirror readers say people are being left unable to reach their doctors’ surgeries and shops.

In the 1960s, thousands of miles of track were scrapped and hundreds of stations closed after a report by British Railways boss Dr Richard Beeching. It could be the same for bus routes.

Since 2010, the Tories have nearly halved funding in England by £182million, fares have gone up by 13% above inflation and 3,347 routes have been axed or reduced.

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Local authority bus budgets cut by 45% – £182m – since 2010/11

Local authority bus budgets in England and Wales have been cut by 45% – £182m – since 2010/11, according to a transport campaign group.

The Campaign for Better Transport, in analysis released on Monday, said funding for supported buses dropped by £20.5m last year – the eight year in a row budgets have been cut.

Steve Chambers, Campaign for Better Transport’s public transport campaigner, said: “The slow death of supported bus continues, with local authority bus budgets suffering yet another cut this year.”

He added that losing a bus service can have “huge implications” for a community, such as preventing commuters getting to work, affecting peoples’ mental and physical health and wellbeing, and an inevitable effect on congestion and air pollution.

Martin Tett, the Local Government Association’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 like caring for the elderly and disabled, protecting children, filling potholes and collecting bins.

“Faced with significant funding pressures, many across the country are being forced into taking difficult decisions to scale back services and review subsidised routes.”

A government spokesperson said: “We provide around £250m every year to support bus services and a further £1bn to support older and disabled people using the free bus pass scheme, benefitting people up and down the country.”

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Our comment: – a sad story, the decline of bus services in the UK

Britain’s bus network has shrunk to levels last seen in the late 1980s

Rising car use and cuts to public funding are being blamed for a loss of 134 million miles of coverage over the past decade alone.

Some cut-off communities have taken to starting their own services, with Wales and north-west England hardest hit.

The government has encouraged councils and bus companies to work together to halt the decline.

One lobbying group fears the scale of the miles lost are a sign buses are on course to be cut to the same extent railways were in the 1960s.

During that decade thousands of miles of track were scrapped and hundreds of stations closed following a report by British Railways Board chairman Dr Richard Beeching.

Chris Todd, of the Campaign for Better Transport, said: “We are not talking a loss of that level, but we are heading that way.

“We live in a society that is quite prepared to completely abandon certain groups of people and leave them with no options of getting around.”

Communities around the UK say the shrinking bus network is leaving people unable to reach basic services such as shops and GP surgeries.

Our comment: How much bigger might the decline in services be without the English National Concessionary Travel Scheme which was introduced nationally in 2008 ? Crises of viability of local bus services throughout England are likely to have arisen from one end of the country to the other.

read more on detailed BBC report

Consultation on bus pass age qualification in Scotland closed 17th Nov 17 – announcement imminent ?

In Scotland people aged 60 or over are holding their breaths whilst the outcome of The Scottish Government’s consultation on the future of bus pass entitlement in Scotland is awaited. The closing date for responses was November 17th 2017. In brief the 3 options consulted on are:

  1. make no change to the scheme, leaving the eligibility rules as they are (i.e. age 60); or
  2. raise the age of eligibility for both men and women in one step from 60 to the (female) State Pension age (which will be 65 in November 2018 and will increase to 68 over a number of years )
  3. raise the age of eligibility for men and women progressively towards the State Pension age (see 2 above) by annual increases of one year or half a year to the age of eligibility.

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Dundee council rejects Scottish Government bid to raise bus pass age limit to 65

Council chiefs are set to reject proposals to raise the age limit on free bus travel — as they call on ministers to protect local services.

The Scottish Government is currently consulting on a proposal to raise the age at which free bus travel can be claimed from 60 to 65.

The proposed change could take effect next year, when the women’s state pension age is equalised with that of men at 65.

However, Dundee City Council council bosses are officially opposed to the move and next week members look set to ratify a statement that will be sent to ministers — saying occasional bus users are being hit by higher prices needed to fund the scheme.

The council said in its statement: “The bus is primarily used by people travelling around their local communities — again people mainly from low-income households, elderly and disabled, women and younger people. The Government should be safeguarding expenditure for those modes of transport that support those with most need in society.

“If Government is to push ahead with this change, a significant proportion of the savings should be ring-fenced for supporting the local bus network.”

A report to be considered at the city development committee on Monday states that the current reimbursement system has driven up the costs of adult single tickets — making bus travel for occasional users seem expensive.

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the bus is helping to drive Scotland’s economy

It is a maligned mode of transport, but the bus is helping to drive Scotland’s economy, says Martyn McLaughlin. With an unrivalled location on the Black Isle’s north-west coast and panoramic views of the Cromarty Firth, it should come as no surprise that the village of Culbokie is increasingly favoured by those who work in Inverness. On a good day, it takes a little over 20 minutes to skirt across the Kessock bridge, a commute well worth it for the chance to reside in one of Scotland’s most picturesque spots.
The only caveat, however, is that you need a car. In April, Stagecoach withdrew its service after losing out in a Highland Council re-tendering exercise. Now, residents in the rural nook who wish to travel to Inverness by public transport are forced to traipse nearly two miles to flag down a passing service, and even then, their window of opportunity is limited. According to Norlil Charlton, a member of a local action group battling to get a direct service reinstated, it is impossible to get to Inverness before 10am, or return to Culbokie after 2:30pm. The only alternative is to hitch a lift, or pay around £50 for a round trip in a taxi. At least one family has moved to Cromarty as a result.

Read more at: http://www.scotsman.com/news/uk/martyn-mclaughlin-public-buses-are-lifeline-and-vital-to-scots-economy-1-4589528

 

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Raising Age limit in Scotland for bus pass gets nearer

The age limit for free bus passes could be raised as a consultation on the benefit gets under way.

Transport minister Humza Yousaf has issued a call for views on proposals aimed at making the concessionary travel scheme affordable in future.

More than 1.3 million over-60s and disabled people benefit from the free bus pass, accounting for about 145 million journeys each year or a third of all those made in Scotland.

The scheme is facing a £9.5m cut in the 2017-18 draft budget despite rising numbers of older people.

Yousaf insisted passes would not be taken away from those who already benefit or are due to obtain one before the changes come in.

Labour said the SNP has “no mandate” to make cuts to the bus pass budget as no such policy was in their manifesto for the 2016 Holyrood election.

The new consultation looks at whether the age of eligibility should be raised in one go or gradually to bring it into line with the state pension age, which will be equalised for men and women in 2018.

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This topic has been raised many times, the most recent in January 2017