Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Bus Users Ask the County to Reconsider its Plans

The Bus Users' Group, whilst recognising the financial difficulties the County Council finds itself in, feels that the council does not plan to spend its remaining public transport  money wisely.

After April 2016 the Council intends to stop funding all subsidised bus services and to use what little funding it has to provide minibuses to parish councils that volunteers would drive on locally-organised routes.  Unsurprisingly, the Bus Users' Group has detected a complete lack of enthusiasm amongst parish councils or anyone else for this approach.

Therefore the Group has sent the following letter to the Cabinet Member for Transport at the Council asking that the planned "Parish Bus Scheme", which no parishes appear to want, be scrapped in favour of the county council working together with parish councils and others to maintain at least a basic bus service throughout Lancashire by means set out in the letter.

If you agree with the views expressed in the letter you may wish to tell your local county councillor
(addresses here on this link)  and perhaps send him or her a link to this post.

LANCASTER DISTRICT BUS USERS’ GROUP
Please reply to
98 Dorrington Road
LANCASTER
LA1 4TD
County Councillor J Fillis                                              lancasterbususers@gmail.com          
77 Southport Road                                                                                                                 
ORMSKIRK                                                                                                                            25th January 2016
Lancs
L39 1LW

Dear Councillor Fillis,
BUS SUBSIDIES AND PARISH BUS SCHEME
Lancaster District Bus Users’ Group understands the reasons behind the reductions to the County Council’s budget and accepts that bus services must take their share of the cuts. We feel however that the proposed total withdrawal of all subsidies and their replacement by a “Parish Bus Scheme” that will rely heavily on volunteers for all aspects of its operation is not the way forward and does not represent best value for money.
Even were it to be successful the Scheme would lead only to a fragmented series of unrelated local services each with an uncertain future and with a lack of co-ordination between them or with commercial services and carrying far fewer passengers than the current subsidised routes.
We feel that the money allocated to the proposed scheme could be better spent elsewhere. In recent years Lancashire’s rural and suburban areas have enjoyed a generous level of bus service provision; in many cases the best services that some communities have ever enjoyed. There would therefore appear to be scope to reduce service levels, even quite drastically, and still maintain a basic level of provision. Your current proposals do not do this and will lead, in a number of instances, to communities moving from a seven-day-a-week, 07.00 to 23.00 hrs service to no buses whatsoever.
We would ask you to consider utilising the £2M that we understand is set aside for the Parish Bus Scheme in one of two different ways:
To maintain a basic level of service provision during the working week (excluding  evenings and Sundays) particularly on routes where communities would otherwise be more than two kilometres from an alternative service, the actual service level being the best that could be obtained for the money available. Parish Councils, or other interested groups could be invited to provide funding to enhance such services where they wished to do so.
Alternatively:  To encourage Parish Councils and others to procure their own services from commercial bus operators and to utilise the county’s remaining funding to match the parish expenditure by way of grants.
Our discussions with Parish Councils in the Lancaster District have uncovered no enthusiasm for the Parish Bus Scheme as proposed and we believe this is likely to be the case elsewhere. In any case, with subsidised services due to end on 2 April it is extremely unlikely that any new schemes could be put into effect in time to avoid a gap in provision. We would therefore ask you again to reconsider.
Please note that although this letter has been sent as “hard copy” I would be happy to receive your reply by email to the address above should that be more convenient.
Yours Sincerely,

Jim Davies
Chair



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