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39 bus services could be axed
8:00am Tuesday 24th September 2013 in News
COUNTY Hall bosses say planned bus cuts are “realistic” given the current economic climate.
Essex County Council has published a list of 200 routes- including 39 in south Essex- which are under threat in its bid to save some of the £7.9million it spends every year on subsidies.
Around 85 per cent of routes in Essex are run by private companies, but the council pays for many evening, weekend and bank holiday services which wouldotherwise make little or no profit.
The council has launched a 12- week consultation to find out which services are most important to residents, councils and businesses and which ones it can reduce or withdraw.
Rodney Bass, Essex county councillor responsible for highways and transportation, said: “We need the review to make sure the bus services we provide meet the essential travel needs of residents, offer the best value for taxpayers and can be sustained.
“Given the challenging economic climate, we must be realistic and accept it is likely that not all needs across the county can be met and the funding available in the coming years will be reduced.
“However, the views the public provide will be carefully considered and reviewed alongside information we already hold, such as passenger numbers and the journeys passengers take.”
First Bus, which operates a number of the threatened routes, says it is unable to say whether it could continue running services if the funding is axed.
A spokesman said: “We will be working closely with the council and will look at ways of resolving any issues so any impact on services is kept to a minimum.”
Essex County Council has not identified how much it needs to save.
However, the amount of cash it receives from the Government to run services has been cut by about 25 per cent.
The cuts come after Essex County Council announced plans last week to axe free school transport for hundreds of pupils.
The authority spends about £25million on taxis for disabled children and passes for pupils from low income families.
The bus cut consultation ends on Monday, December 9.
The council says it will use the results to determine which services will be cut or have their times or frequencies changed.
It will then publish a draft Local Bus Strategy in May 2014, which residents will again be given the opportunity to comment on.
According to the council, the changes will not affect the pensioners’ bus pass and any changes to services will be phased in between September 2014 and September 2015.
To comment, visit www.essex.
gov.uk/busreview or call 0845 603 7631.
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