CALLS have been made for councils in East Lancashire to be given more resources to subsidise bus services.

A lack of clear policy and a funding squeeze have contributed to the loss of thousands of local buses, worsening congestion, air quality and access to jobs, according to the transport select committee.

The committee has called on the government to draw up a long-term plan by the end of 2020 to support a sector that provides the majority of public transport. It said it should set out clear funding commitments and targets for a “modal shift” to bring car drivers and passengers back on to buses.

Cllr Martin Tett, transport spokesman for the Local Government Association, said: “Bus journeys are in a downward spiral of decline, which is driving up fares and exacerbating cuts to the services and routes that are a lifeline for many communities and vulnerable residents.

“The committee rightly calls for the funding of bus services to be reformed and it is good to see several recommendations to improve this. The recommendations also include a single bus strategy for England.

“Any strategy would have to be backed by adequate resources and find a fully funded long term solution to concessionary fares which are underfunded by at least £652 million a year.

"This is unsustainable for councils already struggling to protect other subsidised bus travel in rural areas, or helping young people with their travel costs."

“Ahead of the forthcoming spending review, government needs to give councils control over the bus service operators’ grant, and properly fund national free bus pass schemes, if councils are to maintain our essential bus services, reduce congestion and pollution, and protect vital routes.

“We are happy to work with the committee and the government on taking forward the many helpful recommendations in this report.”