A TOTAL of 90 of the 101 subsidised bus services in East Sussex will continue to run under revised proposals to be put to council leaders.
At its meeting on Tuesday, December 16 2014, East Sussex County Council’s cabinet will consider proposed changes to the supported bus network that would save taxpayers £1.88m.
The plans include changes from the original proposals, in response to feedback from the public consultation held earlier this year. The council has been working with bus operators who are willing to run 23 services as commercial routes.
Under the revised proposals, Dial-a-Ride services which currently receive financial support from the council will continue to receive funding to provide at least a three day-a-week service and school services to Heathfield, Ringmer and Uplands Colleges will now continue to operate.
The 12-week consultation attracted 3,605 responses, including 13 petitions, while there were also extensive discussions with bus operators and other interested groups and individuals.
The council asked residents to consider their proposals for the supported bus network, which were based on a clear set of priorities. These included aiming to ensure that children and young people could travel to school or college and that residents could get to work in key centres during peak times and access essential services on at least two days a week.
If the proposed revisions are agreed, around 91 per cent of passengers will be unaffected and 95 per cent will still have access to a six-day-a-week service. Off-peak services will continue to run but with a reduced frequency.
Rupert Clubb, county council director of communities, economy and transport, said: “The consultation has allowed us to hear first-hand how any changes to the supported bus network would impact on those who rely on services.
“It has given the council and bus operators the opportunity to reassess passenger numbers and several operators believe parts of some services can run commercially. We welcome their decision, as this takes some of the burden off the county council and the taxpayer.
“Increasing pressures on our budget mean we must find savings across all services provided by the county council, but we need to make sure we minimise the negative impact any reduction or change in service would have and have amended our proposals in order to achieve this.
“If the changes are agreed, we will continue to work with borough, district, town and parish councils to identify funding opportunities or set up alternative travel solutions such as car share and wheels2work schemes. Discussions will also continue with bus operators in an attempt to increase the commercial network.”
The proposed changes would reduce the average cost of subsidised journeys to the council from 81p per passenger to 59p – a reduction of 28 per cent.
As part of the proposals, cabinet will also be asked to consider an increase in adult and child fares across the supported bus network. Subject to discussions with bus operators, daily fares would increase by up to 30 per cent and the cost of a weekly ticket on a supported bus would increase by up to £3.
On December 16 cabinet members will be asked to consider the proposals for the reformulated bus network. The results of the public consultation along with other information will be shared with councillors.
The cabinet will also consider a recommendation made by full council that it rejects all changes to subsidised bus routes.
All councillors will be free to debate the issue at the meeting, but the decision will be taken by the county council’s cabinet.
Full details of the reformulated supported bus network (RSBN) proposals are available at www.eastsussex.gov.uk/yourcouncil/about/committees/meetingpapers/cabinet/2014/16december.htm