Changes to supported bus network will protect 90 services

A REVISED supported bus network will safeguard 90 services and save the taxpayer a total of £1.88million.

Today (Dec 16), East Sussex County Council’s Cabinet approved proposals that will protect peak services, those relied upon by students travelling to school or college and residents needing to access essential services.

The changes, which come into effect from April, will leave 91 per cent of passengers unaffected while 96 per cent will still have access to a six-day-a-week service. Only seven off-peak services will be reduced to two days a week, and two to three days a week.

A total of 23 previously subsidised services will run as commercial routes, including nearly all current supported evening services in the county.

Members of the Cabinet also approved an increase in adult and child fares across the supported bus network. Subject to discussions with bus operators, daily fares could increase by up to 30 per cent and the cost of a weekly ticket on a supported bus could increase by up to £3.

“I want to assure residents in East Sussex that we have listened to the feedback from the consultation and the views of the full council,” said Cllr Carl Maynard, lead member for transport and environment.

“We have the unenviable task of finding millions of pounds worth of savings and have to review every service to ensure our limited budget is being used in the most effective way.

“We felt the proposals brought to cabinet, amended in response to public feedback, minimise the impact of changes on the residents of East Sussex and offer best value for money for all taxpayers.”

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.

“Subsidised journeys currently cost the taxpayer 81p per passenger,” Cllr Maynard added. “The approved changes will reduce this cost by 28 per cent to 59p per passenger, per journey. The most expensive single journey is currently £11.97, from April this will be reduced to £4.83.

“We recognise that, while this will achieve savings, our decision will impact some residents in the county. We will continue to work with other local authorities to take full advantage of funding opportunities or set up transport alternatives.

“We will also continue our discussions with bus operators in an attempt to increase the commercial network and further ease the burden on taxpayers.”

The Cabinet agenda item, which includes details of the agreed reformulated supported bus network, can be viewed here.