Bus services could be cut to save money

Lancaster's bus services could be cut.
Lancaster's bus services could be cut.

Bus services across the district could be cut as part of new county council cost-cutting measures.

Lancashire County Council is proposing to reduce support for evening and weekend buses to focus on maintaining services during the daytime.

A public consultation is currently under way into the plans, which aim to save £3.8m over two years.

The scheme would see funding withdrawn for evening and Sunday services that currently receive council subsidies to allow them to operate.

However, the council proposes to invest a further £500,000 in dial-a-ride services.

Four-fifths of bus services in Lancashire are run by private companies on a commercial basis.

The remaining 20 per cent are not commercially viable and are currently subsidised by around £8m from the county council each year.

The plans would see subsidies withdrawn from 72 evening and Sunday services countywide from May 18 2014.

Subsidies would continue for 103 bus services which operate during the day, but each would be reviewed on a case by case basis when its current contract expires to ensure it remains sustainable.

Services across the Lancaster district which would be affected are: Service 5 Overton to Carnforth, Service 7 Lancaster to Marsh and Vale, Service 10 Lancaster to Ridge, Service 40 Morecambe to Preston, Service 42 Lancaster to Blackpool, Service 51 Lancaster to Silverdale, Service 55 Lancaster to Carnforth, Services 81A and B Lancaster to Kirkby Lonsdale and Service 89 Lancaster to Knott End.

County Coun John Fillis, cabinet member for highways and transport, said: “We would never have chosen to be in this financial situation but have to find ways to drastically reduce our budget due to cuts imposed by central government.

“Our first priority is to safeguard the most vulnerable members of our society but to achieve this we have to look at everything we do and propose some difficult solutions.

“I’m fully aware that the withdrawal of any bus service would have an impact upon the people who use it.”

Another proposal which features as part of the consultation is a change to the council’s policy on public transport.

The council currently considers whether it can step in to support a service when a commercial bus company withdraws a route – usually because it is not considered profitable. The new policy would make it clear the council could not do this in future.

You can view the consultation documents and the full list of services affected at www.lancashire.gov.uk/haveyoursay and respond on the website.

You can also email responses to lcc.bus.services@lancashire.gov.uk or by post to Bus and Supported Transport Manager, Lancashire County Council, Room D3, PO Box 100, County Hall, Preston, PR1 0LD. The closing date for responses is January 10.

The county council’s budget will be decided at a full council meeting on February 20.