Budget cuts threatening subsidised bus services

BUS and rail passengers are being asked to give their views on how cuts could be made to Derbyshire's £7 million public transport bill.

The county council spends 5.4 million subsidising loss-making bus services, 1.3 million on half-fare passes for 14 to 19-year-olds, and 460,000 each year on top of money it receives from the Government to cover the cost of free bus travel for senior citizens.

But as part of cuts to its budget, it believes savings should be made.

Increasing the proportion of fare 14-19 year-olds should pay, raising the cost of school buses - currently 50 pence per journey - and reducing the 220,000 it pays to allow pensioners to have half-price rail fares are up for consultation.

But the main cuts are likely to be made from subsidised buses, where the greatest savings could be made affecting fewer people.

The council has revealed some services, such as the 251 Crystal Peaks to Norwood service, is used by just 25 people a month and the cost of the subsidy equates to 8.90 per person.

Caroline Carey, of Derbyshire County Council's public transport unit, said: "We currently pay for around 15 per cent of all bus services in Derbyshire, subsidising routes where passenger numbers aren't high enough for operators to run them on their own.

"We also support community transport, school transport and help out with some fares for younger, older and disabled people.

"We will have to make some difficult decisions about the services but before we do we would like to know which services the public think are the most important."

Campaign group Transform Chesterfield argues cuts to transport would be wrong.

To share your views visit www.derbyshire.gov.uk/council/have_your_say People before January 31.

Do you have an opinion? Leave your comment below.

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