8 March 2011: The future of buses depends on real vision and political will; where it's not there we will have to cultivate it. Devon County Council has promised £33 million of taxpayer’s money for a pipe-dream bypass while £1.3 million is cut from the county’s bus subsidies. There are ways to mitigate the localised negative impact of bus cuts. However we felt Devon CC needed to be reminded that building a hugely expensive and unnecessary road isn't one of them. Our press release on the issue sparked local media coverage as well as an intervention from Norman Baker.
Nonetheless, it is important to remember that it is reductions to funding from central Government that are the root of the vast majority of bus cuts facing the country.
Over the last couple of weeks the Save Our Buses campaign has had support from the Green Party, and people from all over the country, including Cambridgeshire, Leicester and Somerset, are busy campaigning to save their buses.
Community transport is part of the debate. In North Yorkshire campaigners have had success (PDF) in making sure that funding for their hugely successful community transport scheme has not been totally withdrawn by the council. The good news is that Dales Bus, a popular integrated network of weekend bus services in the Yorkshire Dales, has been saved – at least for summer 2011. The bad news is that North Yorkshire is continuing with its plans to cut all subsidies for Sunday services, and funding for Dales Bus beyond summer 2011 is still unsecure.
The wider question of the future of local bus services delivery is the topic of The Big Bus Debate; a conference being held on the 17th March in London. Our CEO Stephen Joseph will be speaking, along with Norman Baker and many others. We are endorsing this event because there needs to be a space for serious discussion on buses and their vital role in society. It’s a critical question for people all over the UK who rely on buses day in and day out.