North Yorkshire County Council is looking to reduce the amount they spend subsidising bus services.
The council have released a proposed reduced bus service but have an expectation that services will be replaced by people using their own cars and offering paid-for lifts to others.
They have said that due to decreases in Government funding the county council proposes to reduce the amount spent on subsidising bus services by a further £500,000 as part of its overall savings target.
This would reduce the amount the authority spends supporting public transport to £1.5 m a year and while services will be retained, this will lead to a reduction in the number of journeys available in some areas.
To see the proposed new reduced timetable consultation
The consultation runs until 14 August 2015 and provides scope for the authority to respond to local issues and to extend community transport solutions across the county to overcome any reduction in conventional bus services.
Funding will be provided to ensure that every part of North Yorkshire will have access to a voluntary community car scheme to enable people in market towns and villages to maintain social access and attend important appointments.
There are also plans to extend the community transport scheme where volunteers use their own cars to provide community transport and are reimbursed by their passengers.
The consultation proposal also sets out a number of services where currently subsidised routes could be covered by the authority’s own fleet of minibuses. North Yorkshire is one of the few authorities in the country to use its own fleet as a solution to bus subsidy reductions. The authority would invite local communities to put forward volunteer drivers to increase the fleet’s capacity further.
The county council operates 65 vehicles and some of these are used to provide 11 local bus services which carry over 500 passengers each day. The proposals would lead to an expansion of the fleet and passenger journeys.
The council last year implemented proposals to reduce the amount it spends subsidising bus services by £2m every year. This still means that 85 per cent of bus passenger journeys in North Yorkshire are made on services provided by private bus companies on a commercial basis.
That reduction in subsidy was part of the county council’s need to reduce its overall expenditure on all services by £92 m to March this year.
Further announcements by the Government over future funding means the county council now has to find a further £74 million by 2019. This represents a reduction in the council’s spending power in total by about one third – at a time when the demand for the services it provides is continually rising.
The bus consultation sets out and invites innovative solutions to further reductions in bus services caused by subsidy savings. In some areas of the country, councils have cut bus subsidies altogether. However, the County Council still maintain that is committed to supporting the rural economy and the vibrancy of its communities and so chooses to maintain some support for public transport and is now looking at different and more cost-effective ways of doing this.
County Councillor Chris Metcalfe, North Yorkshire’s Executive Member for Integrated Passenger Transport said: We have to make difficult decisions due to the level of savings we must continue to find across the authority.
But this necessity has led us to think about how we can deliver services differently, working in new and pioneering ways with partners in the public and voluntary sectors.
We know that many people are upset by proposals to reduce bus subsidies and we understand their concerns for maintaining access to essential services and maintaining social contact. We too have these concerns and that is why we are also putting forward innovative solutions for people to consider. We will listen carefully to people’s views during the consultation and we hope to be able to respond positively to address people’s concerns where possible.
The county council would be interested to work with local communities to introduce such a scheme in other areas of the county
The authority also supports voluntary community organisations such as the Upper Wensleydale Community Partnership and the Grassington Hub to provide demand-responsive and scheduled services in remote areas using volunteer drivers and minibuses funded by or provided through the county council.
The consultation documents, including proposed changes to individual routes, are available:
online from the county council’s website www.northyorks.gov.uk/bussubsidy
or by contacting the customer service centre 01609 780780
or by visiting any North Yorkshire Library where staff will provide assistance to access the consultation documents.
The county council is also holding a number of drop-in sessions across the county between May and June so that as many people as possible can attend and discuss solutions.
A final report following the consultation will go to the county council’s executive on 8 December 2015 and before Full Council in February 2016. The decision will be implemented from April 2016.
Drop in sessions:
- Bolton Abbey Village Hall 26 May 10:30 12:30
- Grassington Town Hall 26 May 14:00 16:00
- Kettlewell Village Hall 26 May 17:00 19:00
- MaltonLibrary 2 June 11.30 13.30
- Sherriff Hutton Village Hall 2 June 12.30 14.30
- Boroughbridge Coronation Hall 3 June 09:30 12:30
- Knaresborough Library 3 June 13:30 15:30
- Green Hammerton Village Hall 3 June 16:00 17:45
- Sherburn In Elmet Eversley Park Centre 15 June 10:00 13:00
- Stutton Community Hall 15 June 16:30 18:30