BUS companies have been hit by Government cuts, a study reveals.

The number of miles clocked up each year by buses in Britain has hit its lowest point in 28 years, BBC shared data reveals.

It shows that in the past decade, the UK bus network has shrunk by eight per cent, with 134 million fewer miles driven by buses each year.

Local transport authorities Lancashire and Blackburn with Darwen have seen a significant decline in bus mileage between 2013 and 2017.

Lancashire, as a whole, has lost 4.5m miles in just four years — the equivalent of 183 trips round the equator. Blackburn with Darwen has lost 310,000 miles in four years, the equivalent of 12 trips around the equator.

Out of the country’s 88 transport authorities, Lancashire and Blackburn with Darwen are ranked in the top 15 for highest losses.

In the past four years, Lancashire has seen mileage shrink by 17.6 per cent and Blackburn with Darwen's by 17.1 per cent.

Metropolitan areas in England have been worst hit in recent years, losing a tenth of vehicle miles since 2013/14 alone.

Councillors and transport bodies have voiced their concern after the study reveals the bus system has been in decline in the last 10 years.

Blackburn with Darwen councillor Phil Riley, who is the executive member for the regeneration portfolio, said: “The issue is council funding. We are trying to do what we can with the money available. Until there is a change in funding of council services it’s unlikely that situation will change.”

County Cllr Andrew Snowden, who is the lead member for highways and transport, said: “I’m not surprised at all by the findings.

"The problem is a manifestation created by the Labour administration with the cuts to rural bus services, who originally planned to get rid of them in their entirety.

"We have increased the publicity of a number of different roads to make people aware of the bus services in their area. We have spoken to the commercial companies to improve their service and get the best value and quality for our passengers on the different networks.”

Transdev, which runs bus services in Burnley, Pendle, Blackburn, Darwen and Hyndburn, said that contrary to the figures there had been a growth in customer base.

A spokesman said: “There have been a number of other bus companies in the area that have ceased operations in recent years which have gone alongside a cut in government funding for tendered services, which may explain the reduction of miles run in our region.

Contrary to these figures we have seen a six per cent growth in customer numbers since the £2.9m investment in 18 brand new buses on the six and seven from Accrington to Blackburn.”