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Lancashire County Council scrap subsidies for all loss-making Sunday
6:00pm Saturday 14th December 2013 in News
LANCASHIRE County Council proposes to scrap subsidies for all loss-making Sunday, Bank Holiday and evening bus services alarming bus operators, the drivers’ trade union, and politicians.
The plan will affect 72 routes, including 37 in the East of the county, to save £3.8 million over two years from May 18 next year.
They include services right across Burnley, Hyndburn, Pendle, Rossendale, Ribble Valley and Chorley including ‘The Main Line’ route from Clitheroe to Barnoldswick and services into Blackburn.
County transport boss John Fillis he will focus cash on maintaining daytime routes so people can use public transport.
Opponents of the move, expected to lead to operators withdrawing services, claim it will put people off buses altogether.
As part of the scheme, out to consultation until January 10, the county proposes to invest £500,000 in ‘dial-a-ride’ for those in need.
Pendle Peer Tony Greaves said: “I am concerned. I fear this could be the thin end of a thick wedge leading to the end of all subsidies for loss-making bus services in Lancashire which would be a disaster.”
Brian Todd, East Lancashire representative of the National Pensioners’ Convention, said: “This is alarming. Older people will be put off using buses. They need to get back in the evening as well as go out in the day.”
Four-fifths of services in Lancashire are run by private companies on a commercial basis. The loss-making 20 per cent are subsidised by £8m from the county each year.
Subsidies will continue for 103 daytime services, reviewed when current contracts expire.
Coun Fillis said: "This proposal would maintain the bulk of subsidies focusing on routes during the day, when they are most used.”
Main county bus operator Transdev’s sales director Nigel Eggleton said: “The proposed loss of evening and Sunday bus services to large areas of Lancashire is worrying.
“Many passengers using buses during the day rely on evening services to get home. The possible effect upon services at other times of the day is of great concern.”
Debbie Brannan, of the Unite union, said: “We are concerned about the amount of cuts that will be implemented in 2014 and would encourage everyone to speak up in this consultation.”
Maureen Bateson, transport boss for Blackburn with Darwen which co-subsidises some of the services, said: “I understand their difficulty but I am concerned, especially as we want people to come to the borough at weekends and evenings.”
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