Latest situation on Bus cuts
By Simon Galton
As promised, Liberal Democrat County Councillors have been working hard monitoring the impact of a Bus Review launched earlier in the year. The bus review that the County Council conducted was designed to achieve around £750,000 of savings from public transport. It was a cross party review but the Lib Dems on the panel insisted that the panel must be reconvened at a later date to discuss the results of the public consultation.
The issue of bus routes is quickly becoming a big issue in many areas. We understand that local residents don't want to lose services which are their only access to the shops, or the clinic or simply a means to visit friends and family. However the difficult financial situation the County faces means some alternatives needs to be found.
A key issue is whether people with Concessionary travel passes would be able to use them on the proposed Demand Responsive Travel (DRT). DRT is essentially a bus that you pre-book your place on for the time and date you wish. The good news is, after discussions with officers we can confirm that Concessionary Travel passes will be accepted on DRT. This will go some way towards helping people in remote areas who depend on public transport.
Lib Dem Councillors are also listening to their local communities about their desire to keep a basic minimum service of one bus a week. It is clear that many residents would be happy to accept a bus running on one day per week in their area and could arrange for their personal business (such as going to the bank) around this pre-planned day. We think that this is a sensible compromise between the need to make savings and ensuring people are not left isolated, and we will look at formally suggesting this as an alternative to the full service cuts proposed by the Conservatives.
Unlike the Conservatives we do not believe in a slash and burn approach to local services and we want to see any reduction in services matched with appropriate investment in alternatives to prevent people being isolated. If we are not satisfied with the recommendations after they have been consulted on with the public, then we will not support them. In our opinion it is about doing the right thing.