Hampshire County Council cuts: ‘Save isolated bus routes from the axe’

Hampshire County Council is considering cuts to bus susbidies
Hampshire County Council is considering cuts to bus susbidies
M27. Picture: Malcolm Wells

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  • Prioritise those who desperately need bus route, says bus driver
  • Council weighing up cuts to bus subsidies across Hampshire
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COUNCIL bosses should ensure isolated bus routes are not all scrapped in pending cuts, a bus driver has warned.

As previously reported in The News, Hampshire County Council are considering proposals to scrap bus subsidies and funds for community transport across the county to raise £4m.

I feel it should be seen on a route-by-route basis. When you have isolated people on very rural routes who desperately need the service to get from A to B, they simply have to be considered.

Councillor Geoff Fazackarley, who has been a bus driver for 20 years

The plans – which could also involve introducing 50p fees to concessionary fares – are part of the authority’s scheme to save £140m by 2019 in order to balance its budget.

Now seasoned bus driver and Fareham borough councillor Geoff Fazackarley has urged the council to take into consideration passengers on isolated routes.

The Xela bus driver said the council should take the decision on a route-by-route basis.

Cllr Fazackarley said: ‘It will definitely have an impact and is likely to affect the services which nobody is using.

‘However, I feel it should be seen on a route-by-route basis.

‘When you have isolated people on very rural routes who desperately need the service to get from A to B, they simply have to be considered.

‘The council also needs to take into consideration that for some elderly people, these bus trips are the only social interaction they have in their days, losing that will be very hard for them.’

The proposals are part of £20m budget savings for the transport and economic departments being considered by the local authority.

Cllr Fazackarley added that he thought a 50p charge to concessionary fares would not be met by hostility.

He said: ‘People would be happy to pay 50p if it meant their bus service wasn’t going to be scrapped.’

Cllr Michael Westbrook, Labour group leader on the council, said: ‘While the need for those services continues to rise, the cuts now amount to almost half a billion since 2008. Enough is enough.’

The News’ readers have reacted with concern over the plan to axe home-to-school transport for children over the age of 16 with learning difficulties.

Nikki Dore criticised the decision.

She wrote: ‘Poor 16-plus disabled kids already have to pay over £75 a month for their college transport.’