Buses are facing '˜Beeching-style cutbacks', campaigners claim

Cuts to bus services are on a par with the controversial Beeching Report into the rail network, according to new research.Cuts to bus services are on a par with the controversial Beeching Report into the rail network, according to new research.
Cuts to bus services are on a par with the controversial Beeching Report into the rail network, according to new research.
NEW RESEARCH shows that rural bus services are being wiped out, campaigners claimed today.

The Campaign for Better Transport (CBT) said the ‘shocking state’ of subsidised bus services was similar to the Beeching cuts of the railways in the 1960s.

The campaign highlighted 11 areas including North Yorkshire which it says will be hit particularly badly with local authorities proposing massive cuts from local bus budgets over the next few years totalling more than £27m, leaving many rural and isolated communities with little or no bus services at all.

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Some of the largest cuts to bus services are being undertaken by Prime Minister David Cameron’s local council (Oxfordshire £3.7 million) and Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin’s local council (Derbyshire £4.8 million). North Yorkshire will lose £500,000.

Martin Abrams, Public Transport Campaigner at Campaign for Better Transport, said: “This new research shows that up and down the country utterly devastating cuts are now being inflicted on our vital bus services on a par with the swingeing and misguided cuts the Government and Dr Beeching made to our rail network which decimated services back in the 1960s.

“It is a bitter irony that many of the bus services being cut today are historic services that replaced the thousands of rail services that were cut by Dr Beeching, meaning more and more areas now have no public transport at all.

“Following six years of huge reductions in grants from central government, local authorities are being forced into making ever deeper cuts to bus funding and there is real public outrage about the large number of bus services under threat.

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Buses provide a vital role to the community and for some people, especially in rural areas, buses are their only means of getting to work or school, to visit friends or to shops and amenities.

“With the Government’s promised Buses Bill on the horizon Ministers must explain exactly how this bill will help people and communities, particularly in isolated areas, stay connected.”

A Department for Transport spokesman said: “We recognise that buses provide a vital service in local communities, and particularly in more remote areas.

“Decisions on funding for local bus services are a matter for local authorities, but the Government protected around £250m of funding for bus services in England, provided through the Bus Service Operators Grant, as part of last year’s spending review. This has preserved millions of bus journeys every year.

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“In March last year, we committed £7.6m to support 37 local transport schemes in rural, isolated areas through the Total Transport Pilot Fund.

“More than 300 local charities and community groups across England will also benefit from new minibuses through the £25m Community Transport Minibus Fund. We are also developing measures in the upcoming Buses Bill so local authorities can deliver improved bus services.”

Daniel Zeichner MP, Labour’s Shadow Local Transport Minister, said: “This research underlines how desperate the situation for bus passengers is.

“David Cameron promised to keep the free bus pass but he cut the buses instead. Labour would make sure communities have the power to make bus operators provide the services local people need.”