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