Cheshire East Council says many bus operators will continue to run services, despite subsidy cutbacks announced recently.
Cheshire East Council is working closely with bus companies to encourage them to continue operating routes and services, without the burden to taxpayers.
After a detailed public consultation over the summer – that saw more than 1,600 local residents give their views on public and flexible transport issues – changes to bus subsidies were announced last month and will now be phased in over the coming months.
But promisingly, around 75 per cent of school bus operators have since confirmed they are willing to continue operating the routes on a purely commercial basis.
It’s now believed that the removal of subsidy to other bus routes used by the general public will have the same effect, and some operators have indicated a willingness to continue to provide bus routes despite subsidy cuts.
Most bus routes in the area are operated without subsidy – around 90 per cent. Nevertheless, the Council is committed to supporting the remaining 10 per cent of services that are subsidised.
Councillor Rod Menlove, Cabinet member in charge of the environment services, said: “We are expecting many operators to confirm that they are able to provide the same bus service, without a heavy subsidy, and still run the same level of service.
“The signs so far are that many operators have already committed to, or are considering, operating services without subsidy.
“It is no secret that the funds we receive from Central Government to pay for local services have been falling, and we do not wish to transfer the burden onto local taxpayers.
“We will still commit a substantial sum to supporting local transport, at a time when many authorities have already removed all transport subsidies.
“There may be instances where a bus company decides it cannot run the service on a commercial basis if it isn’t viable to do so.
“But we want to reassure rural communities that we have put in place measures that will ensure they are not cut off from local services and amenities.
“The Cabinet has agreed to make an extra £150,000 investment in flexible transport, so that people who live in rural areas, older people and disabled residents, can access their local town or village centre.
Cheshire East Council is still set to spend more than £6 million a year on local transport.
Leader of Cheshire East Council, Councillor Michael Jones, added: “It is right that in these tough financial times we look closely at all areas of expenditure to see if we can provide better value for our taxpayers.
“The public consultation informed us that this was an area where we could introduce new ways of supporting the transport needs of local people.
“I have asked Council officers to discuss with local bus companies better ways of providing services.
“I want to reassure all people who don’t live in towns that we will do all we can to ensure that everyone can access essential local services.”
For full details on the withdrawal of bus subsidies follow the link: