Today we have launched an interactive map that lets you see exactly what is happening to supported buses in your area.
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.
Our bus cuts map highlights every Local Authority in England and Wales and gives details of their spending on supported buses since 2011. In 2013/14 almost 50 per cent of local authorities cut support for buses totalling £17 million. Since 2010 over £56 million has been cut from supported bus services with many routes and services being cut completely.
Our map shows where cuts have occurred using different shading and also indicates where proposed cuts to bus services could take place. Just this week North Yorkshire County Council approved cuts of £2 million from their supported bus budgets which is over 40 per cent of the total spend. 100 services will be affected by these cuts which could hit the most vulnerable bus user groups, such as the elderly and younger people, hardest.
We used the data from our recent Buses in Crisis report that we compiled using Freedom of Information requests. The idea of this map is to paint a clear picture of exactly what is happening to our vital supported bus services in England and Wales, using a simple visual tool. We are not pointing the finger of blame at local authorities as we understand what a difficult financial situation they are faced with, however we feel it is important to raise awareness of the current and future situations for bus users, campaigners and members of the public.
Raising awareness is vital in the fight against cuts to buses. Last week Worcestershire County Council closed a public consultation into proposals to cuts all £3 million from its supported bus budget. Over 8,500 people responded which is unprecedented, and this amazing response was due in no small part to the local campaigners in Worcestershire who worked tirelessly getting people to sign petitions and respond to the vital consultation.
We also highlight the local groups across England and Wales that campaign to protect public transport, particularly buses. There is a wealth of knowledge and experience within these groups and a key aim of this map is to link new people to these groups, in order to empower and mobilise others to campaign to save their local buses.
This is also very much a crowd-sourcing exercise and we also need you to help keep us informed. We will try our hardest to keep the map up-to-date, but if you are aware of any proposed cuts to bus services in your area then please let us know. Likewise if you are a member of local group and would like to be listed on our map, then please get in touch.
We hope you find the map useful. Looking at the severity of the cuts to supported buses, it is clear that there is something deeply wrong and 2014 will be a crucial year to mobilise local campaigners, whilst making the case to Central Government about the importance of buses and provide them with the funding they need and deserve to keep our country moving.