Call to save rural buses

Rural bus services are under threat.
Rural bus services are under threat.

Lancashire County Council’s cabinet member for highways and transport is calling for the government to establish a special fund to protect rural bus services, warning that subsidies are under threat due to the tight squeeze on council budgets.

County Coun John Fillis has written to leaders of Lancashire’s district councils, MPs and MEPs, to ask for their support in requesting that the government provide specific funding to make sure rural areas are not left without public transport.

Most bus services in Lancashire are run on a commercial basis, attracting enough passengers to allow operators to make a profit. However, a number of quieter routes, most often in rural areas, don’t make enough from passenger fares to cover their costs, and are only able to serve some communities with the help of subsidies provided by the county council.

In the letter, County Coun Fillis said: “This is a cross party and boundary issue that unites us all. Despite the unprecedented economic climate, Lancashire County Council has managed to maintain bus services right across the county at a cost of £7m a year, as the effects of continued austerity deepen this is no longer sustainable.

“Transport poverty affects the local economy, education and welfare needs of a whole community. As an authority representing local people it’s important that we work together in recognising and responding to people’s needs.”