3 February 2011
A national campaign to protect local bus services has been launched today by sustainable transport group Campaign for Better Transport. Save Our Buses is in response to unprecedented cuts to council transport spending which will leave many parts of the country without any form of public transport.
Figures revealed by the Save Our Buses campaign show that 70 per cent of local authorities plan major cuts to their bus budgets, with some councils planning to cut all their supported bus services and 13 councils cutting support by more than £1m each.
Government funding cuts mean council-funded routes, which include many rural, hospital, evening and weekend services, are now under threat. Save Our Buses has collected data from every local authority in England to produce an interactive map showing bus cuts across the county.
Buses are vital to the economy and account for two-thirds of public transport journeys3. They are especially important to people on low incomes, job seekers, the elderly, young people, disabled people and those without access to a car. Save Our Buses argues that cuts on this scale are counter productive and will actually hold back the economy, obstruct the delivery of other public services, reduce employment opportunities and magnify social problems.
Stephen Joseph, Campaign for Better Transport's chief executive, said: "The Government said that spending cuts would be socially fair, but cuts to bus services will hit the poorest and most vulnerable hardest. We believe any short term savings will be outweighed by the long term cost of a vastly depleted bus network. These unprecedented cuts will be especially disastrous for people on low incomes and could effectively mean the death of rural bus services. Politicians must consider the social, economic and environmental consequences of failing to protect our bus services."
The Save Our Buses interactive map highlights the scale of the problem facing local buses. People are being encouraged to take part in the campaign by adding local cuts to the map to give an UK-wide picture. The campaign also will offer help and resources to communities fighting to save their local buses.
Sophie Allain, Campaign for Better Transport’s bus campaigner, said: “A recession is a terrible time to take away people's buses. Compared to the deficit and bankers bonuses, the savings from bus cuts are not a lot of money, but the impacts for ordinary people can be devastating.”
To add your local bus cuts to the interactive map, or to download the campaign kit, visit the Save Our Buses website.
Notes to Editors
1. Save Our Buses, a new campaign from Campaign for Better Transport, will be making the case for buses to Government decision-makers and supporting local campaign groups to fight bus cuts in their area. For more information visit the Save Our Buses website.
2. View the interactive map
4. Buses Matter, a report from Campaign for Better Transport commissioned by the RMT, looks at the social need for buses, with particular focus on vulnerable groups such as disabled people, low income households, young people and the elderly. Support for the Save Our Buses campaign is being sought from a range of charities who work with these groups.
5. Buses are under threat on three different fronts:
- Local Authority Cuts
Local authorities provide buses that are socially necessary, but not commercially viable. Cuts to local authority budgets mean many councils are reducing these services or axing them altogether.
- Bus Service Operators Grant (BSOG)
The Government provides bus companies with a fuel duty rebate. The Government announced in the spending review that BSOG will be cut by 20 per cent from 2012, which will effectively mean a 51 per cent increase in fuel duty costs for bus operators. This increase will ultimately be passed on to passengers or result in less profitable services being cut.
- Concessionary fares
Local transport authorities receive Government funding to compensate bus operators for statutory entitlements to free travel for pensioners and disabled people in England. The Government is changing the way it calculates the funding, which means bus operators will receive less money and may cut services as a result. Discretionary concessionary passes, such as those for young people, are funded by local councils and a number of these schemes have already been axed.
6. 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).