‘Watershed’ moment on bus finance is discussed

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BUS firm bosses have met with the county council’s transport chief to discuss a ‘watershed’ moment for services.

Councillor Rob Humby, from Hampshire County Council met with First, Stagecoach and Go South Coast over the cost of subsidising routes.

The council is set to cut £140 million to close a budget gap by April 2019. Cllr Humby said it was a ‘watershed’ but passenger numbers were increasing and only 13 per cent of routes were subsidised.

He said: ‘The well-publicised pressure on the county council’s revenue budget means we can no longer afford the level of subsidies we have provided to operators in the past.

‘We know a reduction in services would raise concerns across the county, as residents told us in our recent ‘Serving Hampshire’ consultation, but we are in a difficult financial position.’

He said together the council and firms need to ‘maintain the levels of public transport service, while reducing dependence on public subsidies’.