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Calls for urgent action to protect the nation’s bus network as Select Committee report is published

11 August 2011
Campaign for Better Transport has welcomed the Select Committee’s report Bus Services After the Spending Review and called on the Government to do more to protect the remaining network by reversing further planned cuts as a matter of urgency.

Stephen Joseph, Campaign for Better Transport’s chief executive, said: “We welcome the Select Committee’s report which recognises the serious damage being done to local bus services by funding cuts. We’ve been warning for some time that things are likely to get worse with further cuts still to come and we are pleased to see the Committee echo these concerns. The Government needs to take action and take action now to prevent the terminal decline of the country’s bus network. It must reverse the planned cut to the Bus Service Operators’ Grant as a matter of urgency or we will be faced with a skeletal bus service in many parts of the country.”

Research conducted by Campaign for Better Transport’s Save our Buses campaign discovered that 70 per cent of the 88 local authorities in England are making cutbacks to buses, with a fifth (20%) cutting over £1 million from their bus budgets and four scrapping funding for socially necessary bus services all together.

The Select Committee report found that these cuts, along with the changes to the way concessionary fares are reimbursed and the planned 20 per cent reduction to the Bus Service Operators Grant (BSOG), are disproportionately affecting vulnerable groups included the elderly, disabled people, young people and rural communities.

The report also highlights concerns raised by Campaign for Better Transport as part of their evidence to the Committee that some of the cuts being made to buses may not be legal. Cambridgeshire County Council has already had to put their planned bus cuts on hold in the face of a legal challenge by one of its residents.

Campaign for Better Transport is urging the Government to reverse the planned BSOG cut and will be taking a double decker campaign bus to each of the party conferences to show politicians just how vital buses are to the economy, to the environment and to society as a whole.

Campaign for Better Transport will be at each of the party conferences with their campaign bus to bring together bus users, national charities and politicians. For more information and dates please contact the press office.

Notes to Editors

1. Save Our Buses is a campaign from Campaign for Better Transport that makes the case for buses to Government decision-makers and supports local campaign groups to fight bus cuts in their area. For more information, or to view the interactive map showing bus cuts across the county, visit the Save Our Buses website. As part of the campaign, the group sent a joint letter, co-signed by 28 other organisations, to David Cameron PM urging him to so more to protect buses.

2. 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 around a 50 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.

3. Cambridgeshire County Council, Northamptonshire County Council, Hartlepool Borough Council and Stoke on Trent City Council cut all funding for council-run buses from April 2011. In May, a Cambridgeshire resident launched a legal challenge against the council’s decision on the basis that they were in breach of their legal obligations. The council conceded the case in July and the cuts are currently on hold pending a full review.

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).