Rural bus services are in crisis throughout Britain. Public sector austerity cuts have resulted in local authorities reducing support for rural bus networks. The insanely unfair system of reimbursement for English National Concessionary Travel (ENCT) senior passes discriminates against rural bus operations, on which up to 80 per cent of passengers can be passholders. Bus routes are being slashed and small bus operators going out of business at an alarming rate. The Government blames local authorities and local authorities blame Government, but it is the rural poor and households without cars who suffer.
Saving a bus route is hard, and restoring cuts once they've happened is even harder. But when the frequency of bus no. 18 was reduced, Lancaster Bus Users' Group didn't let that stop them. Chair Jim Davies tells the story of how negotiating and working with the local authority and bus company restored a regular service and reconnected people to public transport.
Has your bus journey ever included a free ice cream?! Mark Holroyd, the New Forest National Park Authority’s Transport, Access and Sustainable Tourism Manager, tells us about how, after bus subsidies were cut, savvy marketing, the support of sponsors and increasing bus frequencies gave the 112 bus a new lease of life.