Residents criticise plans to cut evening and Sunday bus services across Hertfordshire
- Credit: Archant
Proposed cuts to bus services would have an “enormous” impact if given the green light, according to users.
Hertfordshire County Council is considering withdrawing funding for bus services running after 6.30pm and Sunday services in order to save £700,000.
The council currently funds 119 services – 25% of all Hertfordshire services – at an annual cost of £3.8 million. The proposed cuts would affect 39 of those and disrupt an estimated 200,000 bus user trips.
Chris Danquer from the Stevenage Bus Users’ Group said: “It’s clear that these changes would affect an enormous number of people. You are talking about limiting people’s access to a huge number of opportunities – people need these services.
“People regularly travel to-and-from community centres and other late-night activities in and around the town, most especially the elderly. These changes would severely limit their access to the town centre and the Lister Hospital.
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“I hope not only that this consultation will receive a strong response but that it will be weighed in favour of those against these proposals.”
Terry Douris, the council’s cabinet member for highways, said: “Like all local authorities, we are facing major pressures on our budget. Over the last four years we have made savings of £149m a year while protecting essential front-line services. However, we need to keep saving for 2017/18 – difficult decisions will have to be made.
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“Hertfordshire County Council currently spends £3.8m every year subsidising bus services which are not used enough to make them commercially viable. The amount of support we pay per passenger journey ranges from 10p to over £9 per person. In the current financial climate, we need to review whether this arrangement provides the best value for all Hertfordshire taxpayers while meeting, as far as possible, the essential travel needs of the county’s residents.
“The county council is committed to saving at least £700,000 from the annual bus budget of £3.8m by April 2015. No decisions have been made yet on how to make this saving and we want your views on our proposed ideas. It’s really important to us that we hear from as many residents as possible – whether you’re a regular bus user or not – so we can make informed decisions.”
• To comment on the proposals visit www.hertsdirect.org/busconsult before the October 8 deadline. For paper copies visit your nearest library.