Hampshire bus routes to go as council tightens belt

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SOME less popular bus routes will be axed as Hampshire County Council looks to save money.

The council is currently looking at the results of consultation it conducted across the county, in order to decide which bus routes it should subsidise.

Thousands of questionnaires were handed out and the topic was discussed at Passenger Transport groups and forums over the past few months.

Currently around 15 per cent of bus journeys in the county are subsidised – where the council pays bus companies to provide services that would not otherwise run – and this accounts for around 8,700 journeys every week day.

With government cuts to local authority funding across the country, and grant reductions for rural bus services, subsidising bus routes is one area in which the council is looking to reduce costs as it tries to plug a £55m gap in its budget.

Cllr Mel Kendal, environment and transport chief, said: ‘We’ve carried out this review to ensure we can live within our means.

‘Government reductions are putting a squeeze on all council spending, and we need to look at bus subsidies in light of cuts to the overall grant as well as the reduction in rural bus subsidy grant.

‘In the past, we were able to subsidise bus journeys on lesser used routes to stimulate demand until a service was completely viable or to meet particular social needs but, in this financial climate, it looks like these days are gone.’

A decision on which bus routes will be offered subsidies will be made on July 27.