Council bus budgets halved amid £182m cuts

The Campaign for Better Transport has warned that funding for supported buses has been halved in the last eight years, leaving many parts of England and Wales without public transport.

The transport charity’s new report, Buses in Crisis, highlights how local authority bus budgets in England and Wales were cut by £20.5 million last year, representing the eighth consecutive year of bus budget cuts, withs services cut by £182 million since 2011. This is a 45 per cent reduction.

As a result, the Campaign for Better Transport claims that 199 routes were altered or completely withdrawn last year, with a total of over three thousand routes (3,347) altered, reduced or withdrawn in the last eight years. Additionally, 64 per cent of English local authorities reduced or spent nothing on supported bus services last year

Steve Chambers, public transport campaigner, said: “Our latest report confirms that the slow death of the supported bus continues, with local authority bus budgets suffering yet another cut this year. The resulting cuts to services mean many people no longer have access to public transport, with rural areas hit especially hard.

"The loss of a bus service has huge implications - it can prevent people accessing jobs and education; have an adverse effect on the local economy with people prevented from getting to shops and businesses; affect people's physical health and mental well-being; and has an inevitable effect on congestion and air pollution as more cars jam up our roads.

"The recent Buses Services Act does have the potential to improve local buses, but it’s not enough on its own. The government must wake up to the crisis hitting local buses before it's too late. We want to see a proper national strategy for buses backed up by funding, like those that already exist for all other modes of transport. Only when we treat what is happening to buses as a national crisis, rather than a local one, will we start to reverse their decline."

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