The government must give councils the power to pull local buses out of crisis

The trouble with transport is that headlines tend to go to big infrastructure projects, while everyday local transport, which is what matters to most people on a daily basis, tends to slip under the radar or be treated as a purely local issue.

Maybe that’s why local bus services have been allowed to disappear at an alarming rate with little national attention. Campaign for Better Transport has been monitoring supported bus services since 2010 and we’ve seen a steady decline. Our latest Buses in Crisis research (published 13 March) discovered that nearly £30m has been cut from supported bus budgets this year, resulting in 500 routes reduced or completely withdrawn and 14 local authorities no longer allocating any funds for supported buses.

This situation is partly down to money – funding for buses across England and Wales has been cut by a third (33%) since 2010, affecting 2,900 services – but also down to underfunding of the pensioner concessionary travel scheme.

Some councils are, however, finding innovative ways to continue providing much-needed local buses. With the aim of increasing patronage, Cornwall council is putting in place an integrated network linking bus, rail and ferry services, with smart ticketing for residents and visitors. The council is doing this initially through an “enhanced partnership” with operators.

Parish and town councils are also providing some limited funding for individual services. One example is in the Rye area, where…

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