Cumbria cuts consultation

Cumbria County Council is consulting on ways to save money and amongst its proposals are plans to stop subsidising 43 daytime, 17 evening and ten Sunday services. This constitutes around 5% of the total bus network provided across the county. Subsidising these services is not a statutory function and there is no legal requirement on the council to fund them. According to Cumbria County Council’s cabinet member for highways and transport, Cllr Keith Little, the cost to the local authority for subsidising these services can be up to £12.31 per passenger per journey. The plan is for the staff currently employed in subsidising buses to work closely with parishes and communities to develop more community transport solutions. It already offers Community Wheels and Rural Wheels, which are designed to help people access alternative forms of transport. The consultation on these plans will run until 20 January 2014.

Cumbria County Council has recently made changes to bus services between Millom/Muncaster and Whitehaven. It affects three routes previously supported by the Council and run by Stagecoach and 3D Travel, with minor changes made to the Monday to Saturday timetable, following requests by bus users and discussions with the local community. The changes are part of the council’s ongoing work with operators to ensure that public transport services are co-ordinated in the best possible way. They are unrelated to the Council’s current budget consultation. Any subsequent changes to bus services as a result of the consultation would only happen after a budget has been agreed in February 2014 and would then involve a two month notice period if either the council or operators wished to change existing arrangements.

Cllr Keith Little said, ‘The scale of savings which the council needs to make means it will have to do some things differently. One of these areas would be bus services which the council currently subsidises on top of the fares passengers pay. Under this proposal, the council would cease to subsidise bus services and would instead use the staff that the council currently employs in this area, to work closely with parishes and communities to develop more community transport solutions, the budget for which would be maintained.’

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