Bleak outlook for Telford Bus Routes
Telford & Wrekin Council is planning to respond to a House of Commons inquiry into the health of the bus market.
Bus use across the country (outside of London) has declined significantly since the deregulation of buses in the 1980s.
This is reflected in Telford and Wrekin where bus use has declined by 37% since 2006, which equates to 2.3 million less passenger journeys a year.
Councillor Lee Carter, Telford & Wrekin Council’s cabinet member for Finance, Commercial Services and Economic Development, said: “We currently provide a financial subsidy to Arriva to continue to run a small number of non-commercial bus routes and we have committed an additional £500,000 to retain these existing routes until 2020.
“However, the outlook continues to be challenging, with passenger numbers declining on top of continued cuts in Government funding for local authorities. In addition, any efforts that the Council may consider making to get a greater foothold into this market are undermined by incoherent Government policy.
“We have been informed by Arriva that they are planning on making further changes to current commercial bus routes particularly where passenger numbers are low.
“Although most of these changes are minor tweaks, some of the changes will see the removal of services in some areas which is a major concern given that two thirds of the Borough is still predominantly rural.
“Clearly we are very disappointed and unhappy that Arriva is reducing services particularly as we are not in a position to step in and provide further financial support as we just don’t have the funding to do so anymore.
“We fully recognise the importance of local bus services to our communitiesand we are working hard behind the scenes to lobby government to see properly subsidised services provided across Telford and Wrekin along with a properly funded concessionary travel scheme.
“At the moment, the Council receives just £40,000 a year from Government to support local bus services but a typical annual running cost for one bus is approximately £100,000 a year.
“So the government funding is simply not enough, particularly in comparison to the government’s subsidy provided to privately owned rail companies which receive significant financial support.”
Should the Council prop up under-used routes?