Deal to help bus services keep on the right road

The county council says it has done deals with a number of bus operators in a bid to 
maintain services despite funding cuts to the tune of half a million pounds.

It set out a series of proposals to deal with the cuts which are going to be considered by the Transport, Economy and Environment Overview and Scrutiny Committee at its meeting on Wednesday.

Recommendations will be to approve changes to 18 of the 29 services which were identified to contribute to the county council’s saving requirement.

A key part of the proposals has been to change the way in which the county council buys bus services so the council has set out clearly what it can afford to spend and has asked operators to offer the best level of service they could provide for that amount.

North Yorkshire County Council is also proposing to use its own fleet of buses more as well as expanding community car schemes across the county.

These revised solutions follow an extensive 12 week consultation with communities and bus users and drop-in sessions at local council meetings.

The council also received over 1200 written responses to the consultation.

County Cllr Don Mackenzie, member for public transport said: “We understand people’s concerns about protecting access to essential services and maintaining social contact.

“The Government’s budget reductions have meant we need to look at every area of council expenditure.

“Reducing the amount we spend on local bus services presents challenges but we are fortunate that North Yorkshire bus operators have a can-do approach which extends beyond their commercial networks.

“By working closely with these companies these proposals would retain much of our current network at a lower overall cost.

“Part of the solution is to attract more fare paying passengers and so there is an important role for local people to help keep their bus service by using it on a regular basis.”

Although 85% of bus journeys in North Yorkshire are made on commercial services, which are self-financing, the council still provides over £2m per year to fund additional services.

The council’s executive had asked for proposals to reduce this to £1.5m.

Final proposals will go before the Executive on December 8 for implementation in April 2016.