County councillors will next week discuss the findings of a consultation on a better-value-for-money way forward for passenger transport services in Leicestershire.
They will also be asked to approve a passenger transport policy and strategy to pave the way for a review of supported services as the authority looks to save around £400,000 a year.
Earlier this year, there was a 12-week consultation on the policy and strategy, which, subject to Cabinet approval, will be adopted to ensure the services, which the council funds, best meet the essential needs of people across the county.
If approved, reviews will start later this year with changes coming into effect from mid-2019. All current subsidised bus contracts currently run until June 2019.
A report to Cabinet also recommends that £145,000 is made available from existing budgets so the county council has the resource to provide support and guidance to communities in helping them to develop alternative transport options.
The funding will include developing a greater public understanding of the potential alternatives to traditional bus services, including Demand Responsive Transport (DRT) as well as working with communities to support more tailored transport solutions to meet their needs.
DRTs already operate in some parts of Leicestershire, with additional services trialled during the consultation period to increase awareness.
More than 90 per cent of bus services in Leicestershire are operated on a commercial basis by a number of bus operators at no cost to the council taxpayer.
Where there is not a commercial service, the council currently spends around £2.3m a year on passenger transport services – that’s about £8 for every household in the county.
Many services provide value for money, however some of the current services are being subsidised by as much as £17 per person per journey.
The council recognises the importance of passenger transport services in peoples’ lives.
However, the harsh reality is that councils can no longer afford to support traditional bus services as a ‘default setting’, in fact, many councils don’t spend anything on supporting them at all.
We can’t solve all problems through our budgets, particularly when companies make a commercial decision to end services, but we’ll continue to push the Department of Transport for support to help communities, particularly the rural ones.
We’re now looking to implement a robust policy and strategy so we can make well-considered decisions about the future of services and achieve the maximum benefit from our limited resources
We do recognise that communities will have concerns and that’s why we are also re-allocating money from existing funds to help communities to develop their own solutions, with our guidance and support if that is a viable option for them.Person:Councillor Blake Pain, cabinet member for environment and transport
The findings from the consultation showed there was wide backing for services which support essential needs, such as GP appointments, shopping trips and reducing social isolation in smaller communities.
However, the consultation also outlined that people were still ‘wedded’ to the concept of a traditional bus service, says the report.
Cabinet will discuss the proposals when it meets on Tuesday, 16, October at 2pm - watch the meeting online
The report outlines:
- In a recent Campaign for Better Transport Report (Buses in Crisis 2018), 56 out of the 88 English Local Authorities who responded to the survey had reduced or spent nothing on supported bus services in 2017-18
- Demand responsive transport often uses smaller vehicles to respond to customer requests for journeys, usually in smaller communities
- Demonstration services were operated to serve 16 villages in the Measham, Hinckley and Melton areas