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Beeching of the buses - New research shows rural bus services are being wiped out

4 February 2016

Campaign for Better Transport has revealed the shocking state of local subsidised bus services across England and Wales with millions of pounds being cut from essential everyday services.

New research shows people living in Lincolnshire, Leicestershire, Derbyshire, Somerset, Dorset, West Berkshire, Wiltshire, Oxfordshire, Hertfordshire, North Yorkshire and Lancashire will be hit particularly badly with local authorities proposing massive cuts from local bus budgets over the next few years totalling more than £27 million, leaving many rural and isolated communities with little or no bus services at all. Some of the largest cuts to bus services are being undertaken by Prime Minister David Cameron's local council (Oxfordshire £3.7 million) and the Secretary of State for Transport Patrick McLoughlin's local council (Derbyshire £4.8 million).

This new research comes as Campaign for Better Transport launches an interactive online map detailing the scale of the cuts to supported bus services by local authorities across England and Wales since 2010. The map allows users to see exactly how budgets for bus services have fallen over the past six years.

The map is based upon Campaign for Better Transport’s Buses in Crisis report which shows that since 2010 £78 million has been axed from local authority bus funding in England and Wales resulting in over 2,400 bus services being reduced, altered or withdrawn from service. 63 per cent of local authorities in England and Wales have cut funding for bus services in 2015/16, with 44 per cent reducing or withdrawing services entirely.

Martin Abrams, Public Transport Campaigner at Campaign for Better Transport, said:

“This new research shows that up and down the country utterly devastating cuts are now being inflicted on our vital bus services on a par with the swingeing and misguided cuts the Government and Dr Beeching made to our rail network which decimated services back in the 1960’s.

“It is a bitter irony that many of the bus services being cut today are historic services that replaced the thousands of rail services that were cut by Dr Beeching, meaning more and more areas now have no public transport at all. Following six years of huge reductions in grants from central government, local authorities are being forced into making ever deeper cuts to bus funding and there is real public outrage about the large number of bus services under threat. Local buses provide a vital role to the community and for some people, especially in rural areas, buses are their only means of getting to work or school, to visit friends or to access shops and public amenities.

“With the Government’s promised Buses Bill on the horizon Ministers must explain exactly how this bill will help people and communities, particularly in rural and isolated areas, stay connected. Whilst the Buses Bill will enable much needed improvements for people in metropolitan areas, there is increasing worry and uncertainty as to what the future holds for bus users in non-metropolitan areas and with the scale of cuts we are now seeing, urgent action must be taken by the Government to ensure buses have the funding they need and deserve."


For further information please contact Richard Watkins on 020 7566 6494 / 07984 773 468, richard.watkins@bettertransport.org.uk or Alice Ridley on 020 7566 6495 / 07984 773 468, alice.ridley@bettertransport.org.uk

Notes to Editors 

  1. Supported buses are services that are subsidised by local authorities because they are not provided by commercial bus companies. They account for between 20-25 per cent of bus services across England and Wales and serve communities where no alternative route exists, meaning that any cut or alteration can often have a huge impact on residents and local economies.
  2. The Buses in Crisis report was published on 19 November 2015 by Campaign for Better Transport. It is based on Freedom of Information requests to all 110 local transport authorities across England and Wales. This is the fifth year that Campaign for Better Transport has monitored the impacts of cuts to supported bus services (those services funded by local authorities) in this way.
  3. The 1960’s Beeching cuts report led to over 55 per cent of rail stations and 30 per cent of route miles to be closed.
  4. Campaign for Better Transport is the UK's leading authority on sustainable transport. We champion transport solutions that improve people's lives and reduce environmental damage. Our campaigns push innovative, practical policies at local and national levels. Campaign for Better Transport Charitable Trust is a registered charity (1101929).
  5. Our new research has found that the following cuts to budgets for supported bus services are proposed by local authorities for the 2016/17 or 2017/18 financial years:
  • Lancashire - £7.5 million
  • Wiltshire - £5.1 million
  • Derbyshire - £4.8 million
  • Oxfordshire - £3.7 million
  • Leicestershire - £2 million
  • Lincolnshire - £2 million
  • Dorset - £500,000
  • North Yorkshire - £500,000
  • Somerset - £446,460
  • Hertfordshire - £390,000
  • West Berkshire - £320,000