Council cuts could hit rural bus services

editorial image

Rural bus services in the Scarborough could be under threat as proposals are made to reduce council subsidies.

North Yorkshire County Council starting a public consultation on the issue and asking for people’s feedback about possible cutbacks in public spending on transport.

The council has to save a massive £92m in the four years ending on 31 March, 2015. It has warned that, following recent announcements by the Government over future funding, it will need to find a further estimated £66m between 2015 and 2019, so further difficult decisions will have to be taken.

Last month, members of the council approved public consultations on a range of proposals designed to meet the new savings target.

They include a proposal to consider reducing the amount spent on bus subsidies by 25 per cent, or £1.1m a year.

The council spends some £4.4m a year subsidising the 20 per cent of bus journeys which are not commercially viable.

An example of such a route is the rural service which runs between Scarborough, Flixton, Folkton and Filey.

Bob Rackley, commercial manager at East Yorkshire Motor Services (EYMS), which operates the service, said: “I can appreciate the council’s budget situation, but I’m disappointed that they’re looking at taking money out of public transport. It could really limit those who live in rural areas.”

He added: “We will talk to them about this during the consultation, but it is a contract relationship at the end of the day.”

County Councillor Chris Metcalfe, executive member for passenger transport said: “We know that bus services are a lifeline for many people – not everyone has access to a car.

“However, we have huge financial pressures and we have to reduce our expenditure across the board. We have produced some detailed information which identifies the potential impact of this proposal, and hope that people will make constructive comments as part of the consultation process. We will take careful account of all the comments we receive before making a final decision as to what action we will take.”

The consultation runs until November 25. Details are available online at http://www.northyorks.gov.uk/busconsultation or by calling the customer service centre on 0845 8 72 73 74, or by visiting any of the county council’s libraries.