Views aresought onrisk to busfunding

Residents are being consulted on their views about proposals by Derbyshire County Council to withdraw funding from subsidised bus services.

Saturday, 27th February 2016, 1:49 pm

The authority is facing its biggest ever budget cut and as part of a bid to save £4.4m in transport costs, new proposals include:

l Withdrawing all county council funding for subsidised buses from October 2017 so unless they can be run commercially they will stop.

l Withdrawing all county council funding for DAB (Dial A Bus) services from October 2017. This means that unless they can be funded from elsewhere they will stop.

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l Providing £1.3m towards a new Demand Responsive Transport service. This could be used by passengers currently using subsidised buses and those using DAB.

l DRT services would have to be booked. Passengers then turn up at a named location, on a specific day and at a given time. The drop off point is usually a nearby town.

Councillor Dean Collins, Cabinet Member for Highways, Transport and Infrastructure, said: “We are facing unprecedented cuts and must review all our services, particularly those, like subsidised buses and community transport, that by law, we do not have to provide.

“We know from previous consultations that public and community transport is vital to helping people get out and about, enabling them to maintain their independence and wellbeing, but unfortunately, the fact is, we just don’t have the money to continue funding these services to the level we have previously, so we need to look at running things differently.”

Following previous consultation, from 1 April 2016, the Gold Card flat-rate return fare will increase from £2 to £3 after 67 per cent of Gold Card holders who responded to a proposal to raise the fare indicated they would be prepared to pay the higher price.

Originally it had also been proposed to withdraw funding for aCTive Travel journeys to healthcare services but these will now continue until 2020, using money from reserves.

Councillor Collins added: “We do listen to residents’ feedback. This is why, although they could be run by a different operator, we are continuing with transport to healthcare for the most vulnerable, because it was clear from the original consultation that these were vital services for people who would have no other way of getting to essential appointments.

“No decisions have yet been made on these latest proposals and I would encourage people to take part in this new consultation so we are well aware of the public’s view of our plans.”

The consultation will run for eight weeks until Sunday, April 24, 2016.

By 2020, the funding which the council get from central government is expected to be more than a third less than in 2010.

The council need to review what it spends on paying for local bus services which don’t carry enough passengers to be run commercially – subsidised buses – and the amount of money it gives to Derbyshire’s six community transport schemes to run Dial-a-Bus ‘shopping buses’.

The couincil is already scaling back on its support for DAB services meaning that from this year the council will fund one of these trips a week for every community, town or village, to a nearby town centre or supermarket. Some areas currently have several services a week.