Parish councils across the Lancaster district are being asked to run their own bus services in the face of massive cuts to public transport budgets.
A document seen by The Guardian suggests Lancashire County Council will cut £5.6m from public bus services in the coming year.
Now the beleaguered council is asking communities to run their own services through parish, town and borough councils with a view to improving existing services and developing new routes.
The county council has written to other councils and community groups across Lancashire to ask whether they would be interested in running their own service, with the offer to provide a vehicle and guidance to help set it up.
County Coun John Fillis, cabinet member for highways and transport, said: “Public transport tends to focus on providing services where demand is highest and as such there will always be some unmet needs where people would like a bus but nobody provides a service.
“A number of parish councils around the UK operate bus services, taking advantage of the flexibility available to community-based services to meet specific needs in their area and keep costs low and quality high.
“Through discussion we have identified a clear demand for such a community-led service to be established and managed locally.
“These are very valuable services, and can have added benefits by improving people’s independence and bringing people in rural communities together.
“We’ve written to our partner councils to ask them whether this is an option they’d like to explore on behalf of their communities. Working in partnership with other councils and community organisations we feel that this can be the base for building better bus services.”
The county council’s letter to councils, community organisations and bus operators asks them to consider whether the proposal may be of interest, whether they think there’s a demand, and what support they might need to set up their own bus service.
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