Cuts to bus services threaten most vulnerable, say MPs

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Car Rental News - 11/08/2011


Bus service cuts put the vulnerable in an even weaker position, say MPs.

MPs have published a report that says reduced bus services in England threaten society’s most vulnerable members. The report, by the Transport Select Committee, says that budget cuts at local authorities have hit subsidised services, like rural bus routes, and led to higher fares.

The report says that the elderly and people with disabilities are being prevented from working, from being involved in education and from accessing healthcare. The government describes the funding situation as ‘challenging’ but says it is closely monitoring the situation.

The subsidies provided by local authorities are used to ensure services that are not commercially viable, such as those in rural areas, in evenings or at weekends, can still operate. Unfortunately, budget cuts termed by the report as ‘extensive’ mean that young people, the elderly and the disabled are suffering disproportionately.

The report covers the bus services across England, except for London. The Spending Review implemented last year cut the budgets available to local authorities, triggering a reduction in funds provided to subsidised services and higher fares by 70 per cent of councils, says the report.

The report also finds that some buses have been withdrawn from services with hardly any public consultation and in some cases none at all. The report says this situation must change.

At the launch of the report, Labour MP and committee chair Louise Ellman criticised the approach to bus services taken by the government. She said that the reality of England’s bus services belie the government’s claims about wanting to see better services.

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