Parents consulted over school bus axe

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Parents in North Yorkshire are being asked to give their views on proposals to slash the county’s bus subsidies which include
major changes to the school
transport service for fare-paying pupils.

North Yorkshire County Council needs to save £92m in the 
four years to March 2015 and is warning a further £77m in cuts will be needed between 2015 and 2019.

A series of measures have been put in place to save money including a proposal to consider reducing the amount spent on bus subsidies by 25 per cent or £1.1m a year.

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

Schools are sending out letters to parents setting out the county council’s decision to review all subsidised home to school transport arrangements in what officials describe as a move to 
“ensure greater fairness and equality in provision across the county”.

The letter aims to ensure parents are fully aware of the proposals and have an opportunity to respond.

The consultation documents explain how the county council proposes to make changes, why cuts are required and the impact of implementing the strategy on bus services for which the council currently pays.

As part of the proposal, the council will assess the overall impact on its funding and the continued viability of schools. This will form part of its final report in January.

County Councillor Chris Metcalfe, North Yorkshire’s executive member for passenger transport, said: “In the past we have been able to subsidise buses for pupils who aren’t entitled to free transport, in the present financial climate we have to consider whether we can afford to continue this.

“We recognise that in some cases there are wider implications and will take careful account of all the factors when making a final decision.”