North Yorkshire County Council has confirmed that plans for further reductions in bus subsidies will not be introduced until April 2016 at the earliest.
The authority is concerned that access to essential services remains across the county and has therefore decided to take more time for careful consideration of any future passenger transport savings proposals.
Although the county council’s Executive agreed last January that a review of the remainder of the subsidised network should be undertaken to identify the scope for further subsidy reductions from 2015/16, members now recognise that more time is needed to ensure that access to essential services is maintained.
Currently the county council’s integrated passenger transport team is undertaking an in-depth review of local bus services to establish how they can become more sustainable. The authority’s scrutiny committee has also set up a task group to consider how the access needs of communities can be met through a range of transport options. This will report back in October.
Findings from these investigations so far suggest that the county council:
- finds ways of supporting bus operators to provide additional commercial services;
- reviews performance criteria based on subsidy per passenger journey and minimum passenger numbers;
- makes use of school bus services in rural areas to provide demand responsive services once buses have completed their school journey;
- makes best use of existing community transport provision;
- makes best use of the county council’s in-house fleet.
County Councillor Chris Metcalfe, North Yorkshire’s Executive Member for Integrated Passenger Transport said: It is crucially important to this authority that people across this extensive, largely rural county are able to continue to access vital services and therefore we must give very careful consideration to a whole series of options.
This is a very wide-ranging piece of work that needs time and commitment. It is now clear that this work cannot be completed before April 2016.