Bus passengers to have a say on proposed changes

Bus2smallRESIDENTS will be asked for their views on changes to the way East Sussex County Council subsidises bus services.

East Sussex County Council’s Cabinet agreed a 12 week public consultation into services the taxpayer financially supports at its meeting on Tuesday (July 1).

Under the proposals, supported services which operate during peak hours would be largely unchanged and the vast majority of children travelling to their nearest school would be unaffected.

For 91 per cent of current passengers, there would be no change to the services on offer, while more than 95 per cent of users would still have access to a six day a week service.

“We want to hear the views of bus users who rely on these services,” said Cllr Carl Maynard, the county council’s lead member for transport and environment.

“We need to strike the right balance between financially supporting privately-owned bus companies to run economically unviable services around the county and ensuring that our taxpayers are getting value for money and that the limited funds we have benefit those most in need.”

He added: “Under these proposals, peak services are generally unaffected meaning those people travelling to work, education or training can continue to do so using supported services. During off-peak hours passengers would generally have access to services, but may find they are reduced.”

The proposals suggest that supported off-peak daytime services that currently operate hourly or better would still operate Monday to Saturday with a reduced frequency, off peak daytime services that currently operate less than hourly would generally be reduced to a service operating two days a week.

Financial support for 13 evening and Sunday services would be withdrawn and funding for dial-a-ride transport would be reduced to provide a minimum two days a week service.

Cllr Maynard added: “The county council needs to save £110million in the ten years to 2020 and is having to make some difficult decisions to achieve this. This proposal would save the council £1.79million over two years.

“We have not and will not make a decision until we have received feedback from the public about the impact these proposed changes will have on their lives. I would urge as many people as possible to respond to the consultation.”

At Tuesday’s meeting the cabinet also agreed to endorse the draft Public Transport Strategic Commissioning Strategy, which will drive the changes and ensure the needs of four priority groups are met;

• Children eligible for statutory free home to school transport
• Residents who need to get to work at key centres during peak times
• Residents who need to access essential services during the day on a minimum of two days per week
• Children who are not eligible for statutory free home to school transport but need to travel to the nearest available school or college

A public consultation into the proposals will start on Monday, July 7 and run until Sunday, September 28 and is available online