Watchdog’s bus cuts warning
Passenger watchdog, Bus Users UK, has spoken out against central government funding cuts to free travel for elderly and disabled people. According to the Local Government Association (LGA), the cuts amount to 39% over the past four years and affect not only those with concessionary passes but all fare paying passengers, who it claims are being denied essential bus services as a result.
Chief Executive of Bus Users UK, Claire Walters, said, ‘Far more people rely on bus services than trains in this country. They are as vital to many people’s lives as gas, electricity and water, and simply cutting them off to save money is destroying people’s ability to lead normal lives. Bus services provide vital access to work, education, health services, shopping, family and socialising. It’s a double blow to people in rural communities where many shops and services have been closed down and moved to larger centres: not only have they lost the ability to do those things locally, they are now being denied the means to access them altogether. Even in urban areas, where bus services are less dependent on local authority funding, passenger fares are likely to rise if reimbursement rates for passengers travelling on concessionary passes continue to fall. We need greater consultation and urgently, if we are to protect services that are vital to the lives of so many people and to so many communities.’