Public transport budget to be implemented

BusBus

Posted on: 16 July 2015

Proposed reductions in public transport services in Devon will be implemented from 20 September, the County Council has confirmed.

Devon County Council’s Cabinet has approved proposals for a number of bus services across the county to save £1.76 million.

Following a countywide consultation and additional comments from the Place Scrutiny Committee, more than half of the 400,000 passenger trips per year originally proposed to be reduced, have been retained. The agreed measures affect just under 170,000 passenger trips a year, out of a total 4.5 million annual passenger trips on all Devon’s supported services.

Councillor Stuart Hughes, Devon County Council Cabinet Member for Highway Management, said: “The proposals have been updated for a number of services following the public consultation and further consideration by the Place Scrutiny Committee. We’ve listened and responded, and while it’s impossible to implement reductions of this size without some impact, 96% of passenger trips on our supported network will carry on unaffected.

“Officers have considered the points raised throughout this process, and they have continued to look at options with our transport providers and whether Community Transport and the wider community can play a role in future provision. We remain committed not to leave any communities entirely isolated, and we have maintained at least weekly bus services or community-based Ring & Ride and social car schemes throughout our rural areas.”

Among additional changes agreed by Cabinet in the amended proposals, was Service 381 which serves Ottery St Mary. This was originally proposed for complete withdrawal but will continue on an interim basis for two days a week while discussions are held with the local community transport association.

Crediton Town Bus Service Service 607 will continue two days a week while a possible community transport replacement is explored. Service 347 from Cheriton Fitzpaine to Crediton will operate four days a week instead of being reduced to two days a week.

As an alternative to withdrawal of the entire evening service of the Service 86, from Tavistock to Plymouth, one late journey each way will continue. Service 15X from Bideford to Atlantic Village will be replaced by an entirely commercial service.

The Barnstaple Town Service 8/10 has been amended to take in Sunset Heights three times daily, and Service 309 will divert via Bicton Street. Discussions are being held with the local community transport association about taking on Service 33/34/35/36 in the Ilfracombe area.

As well as supporting nearly 200 public bus services, Devon County Council also manages the National Bus Pass Scheme for 175,000 pass holders in Devon, which costs the County Council more than £9 million every year.

More than 2,600 questionnaire responses were received during the 12 week public consultation earlier this year, along with a number of other letters, e-mails and petitions.

A large number of these consultation responses suggested that Devon should request payment for the first issue of a National Bus Pass or to request that passengers pay a contribution to the bus fare. However, the County Council can only administer the National Bus Pass according to statutory legislation contained in the Concessionary Travel Act 2007, and it would require an act of Parliament to alter the legislation governing the scheme.

The County Council Cabinet agreed to make representations to Government over funding of the Concessionary Bus Fare scheme and to seek authority for Councils to charge for issuing Bus Permits, with income being ring-fenced to support public transport.

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