Parents around North Yorkshire are being asked to give their views on a proposal to reduce the county’s bus subsidies which includes changes to the school transport service for fare paying pupils.
North Yorkshire County Council is committed to saving £92m in the four years ending on 31 March, 2015. The county council has warned that following recent announcements by the Government over future funding, it will need to find a further estimated £77m between 2015 and 2019.
In these difficult times it is inevitable that the nature of services and the way they are delivered will continue to change and the county council is therefore consulting widely on these changes.
The county council has therefore approved public consultations on a wide range of proposals designed to meet the new savings target. They include a proposal to consider reducing the amount spent on bus subsidies by 25 per cent, or £1.1m a year. The county council spends some £4.4m a year subsidising the 20 per cent of bus journeys which are not commercially viable.
Schools are currently sending out letters to parents setting out the county council’s decision to review all subsidised home to school transport arrangements to ensure greater fairness and equality in provision across the county. The letter is to ensure that parents are fully aware of the proposals and have an opportunity to respond.
In order to understand the detail of how this will affect families and schools the county council has launched an open consultation exercise. The consultation documents explain how we propose to make changes and why a reduction is necessary; the council’s overall strategy to achieve the reduction and the impact of implementing the strategy on bus services for which the council currently pay.
As part of this proposal the county council will assess the overall impact on its funding and the continued viability of schools. This will form part of our final report in January 2014.
County Councillor Chris Metcalfe, North Yorkshire’s Executive Member for Passenger Transport said:
In the past we have been able to subsidise buses for pupils who aren’t entitled to free transport, in the present financial climate we have to consider whether we can afford to continue this. We recognise that in some cases there are wider implications and will take careful account of all the factors when making a final decision.