Hampshire Now - your County Council magazine

Have your say on how the County Council supports bus and community transport services

Thursday, 20 March 2014

The County Council is asking Hampshire residents what their priorities are for public subsidies for public transport.

In a review of bus and community transport services that receive financial support from the County Council, a consultation is underway to collect the views and preferences of both passengers and the wider community.

Hampshire County Council needs to reduce spending by between £1.25million and £1.5million from public and community transport spending as part of the 12% overall savings the Council needs to make, as a result of the Council's Government grant being cut by 43% over four years.

Hampshire County Council spends £4.7million on supporting those local bus service and ferries across Hampshire that are not commercially viable for private operators to run. A further £1million is spent on supporting community transport services, and £13.4million on the national concessionary fares scheme.

Councillor Seán Woodward, Executive Member for Economy, Transport and Environment at Hampshire County Council, said: "The County Council has significant budget reductions to make, and this requires us to look at all areas of spending, including the limited resources we have to support public and community transport services.

"We need to look very carefully at where our funding goes, and ensure that this properly reflects community priorities and represents the best value for money, which is why we are once again consulting extensively on options before we make any final decisions.

"Areas of public transport the Council currently supports include subsidising local bus services which do not attract enough passengers to cover the cost of providing the service, and are therefore not commercially viable for the bus companies to run, enhancements to the national concessionary fare scheme for older and disabled residents, and publishing bus timetable information.

"The concessionary fares scheme, which costs around £13million accounts for a fifth of our entire revenue budget for roads and transport. The council tax payer in Hampshire is also currently supporting subsidies for non viable bus services, at around £4.7million a year. These two schemes cost around £50,000 every day, and clearly we must look at this as part of our budget reduction process.

"The free bus pass scheme currently includes a local enhancement so that older people in Hampshire can use their passes from 9am, rather than 9:30am, which is the national standard. It is right that we should consider whether to retain this extra feature, which costs around £300,000 per annum as part of this overall review.

"Against a backdrop of Government grant cuts of 43% over four years, it is clear we need to look closely at where we can make savings, and with £1 in every £5 we spend going into this area, we must of course include a review of this expenditure as part of our cost reduction process.

Therefore, we are asking Hampshire's residents about public transport support funded by the County Council, including support for community transport such as Dial a Ride, Call and Go and Taxishare, all of which may give scope for innovative and flexible alternatives to buses, to help us decide how we can shape services to reflect community priorities while living within our means. The consultation is open until 31 May and we very much want to hear from as many people as possible to inform this review."

A number of options are being considered to achieve these savings, which include:

  • Reducing or ceasing support for Sunday services
  • Reducing or ceasing support for evening services after 7pm
  • Ceasing the 9am early start for the older persons bus pass
  • Reducing the frequency and/or days of service
  • Replacing bus services with taxishares or community transport services
  • Reducing the amount of printed timetables and other public transport information with a greater use of electronic information.

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