Council transport chief hits back over bus cut claims
PUBLISHED: 13:30 20 December 2012
MORE than half of North Somerset Council's funding for bus services has been cut, according to a transport group's latest report.
The Campaign for Better Transport’s figures showed the council had cut its funding for bus routes by 51 per cent – a figure which the authority’s executive members call ‘misleading’.
Deputy leader Elfan Ap Rees, who is also the executive member for transport, said the self-appointed interest group’s information does not take into account the number of services picked up by commercial operators.
He said: “The financial reduction was about 40 per cent, which misses the point that a number of services were picked up by commercial operators.
“The report also excludes services funded by section 106 agreements or the local sustainable transport fund (LSTF).”
The report also revealed the South West was the worst hit area for transport funding cuts, with seven out of 14 authorities making budget cuts. It also states a total of 17 services were cut or withdrawn by North Somerset in the year 2012/13 – compared to just two being withdrawn the previous year - but did add the area may not have been the most affected by bus service cuts.
Cllr Ap Rees said: “I suspect the 17 services which the report claims we have withdrawn includes the 692, 800, 660 and 661 - these have all largely been replaced by the single 66 service, which provides a better service at some £100,000 less subsidy.”
Services such as the 5, 7, X54 are now run commercially and the 354 and 362 were altered to allow parts of supported services to be picked up commercially.
The LSTF and Better Bus Area - both Department for Transport funds which the council has successfully bid for - will provide more than £1.5million of additional cash to further boost the commercial network.
The Weston corridor is now more commercial, and the council hopes to achieve the same on the Portishead corridor.
Some £120,000 worth of services previously supported by North Somerset Council are now operated by First Bus.