People are being encouraged to have their say on how the budget for subsidising bus travel in Staffordshire can be best spent – as a public consultation starts.
All bus journeys made in Staffordshire are operated by either private bus companies or by voluntary and community organisations and the eight week consultation looks only at the bus journeys subsidised by taxpayers, which is less than 10 per cent of all journeys.
The county council has developed four possible options for public bus journeys and Dial-A-Ride services it currently subsidises, which in some cases can be as much as £10 per passenger journey because too few people use them or not enough income is generated to cover the costs.
The different options consider a range of factors including; the amount of subsidy, number of passengers, travel for education, employment and health and access to other public transport.
Mark Deaville, Staffordshire County Council’s Cabinet member responsible for transport, said:
“All bus journeys in Staffordshire are operated by private bus companies or voluntary and community groups – and more than 90 per cent of journeys made by people are done so are made without any subsidy from the county council.
“However in cases where we do subsidise bus trips, some people might be surprised to learn it can be as much as £10 per passenger journey.
“As a county council we have to balance how much of taxpayers’ money we can afford to spend on subsiding travel against the need to protect the funding of statutory services such as the record £300m we are spending on care this year.
“We have reviewed how much we can now afford to spend on subsidising travel and as part of this consultation we are asking people how the £1.3m can be best spent.”
Option 1: This is the preferred option as it maintains the greatest number of journeys currently subsidised by the county council – and the lowest subsidy per passenger trip at £1.60. There would be no Dial-A-Ride services
Option 2: Maintains fewer bus journeys, but maintains the South Staffordshire and Staffordshire Moorlands Connect. These Dial-A-Ride services would be subsidised at £8.20 per passenger trip
Option 3: Protects even fewer supported local bus services, but keeps all four existing Dial-A-Ride services, except Border Car, at an £8.80 subsidy per trip
Option 4: Provides a county-wide network of dial-a-ride services at an average cost of £10 per passenger journey. No other bus journeys will be subsidised
As well as continuing to subsidise some journeys the council remains committed to helping the community and voluntary transport schemes to flourish.
Full details of the options and how to have your say can be found at http://www.staffordshire.gov.uk/busreview The consultation closes on September 17. People can have their say online or find out more at their local libraries from later this week.
The final option will be agreed by Cabinet in the autumn and changes implemented in April 2018.