Bus passengers to feel the squeeze

The transport industry faces the 'greatest financial challenge for a generation', according to the Transport Select Committee, with 70 percent of councils having cut funding for bus services – with rural areas the worst hit.

In some cases, all subsidised bus services have been withdrawn. 'The evidence we received from bus users around the country demonstrates the anger and concern people feel about the impact of these decisions on their everyday lives,' said MPs. 'Some of the most vulnerable people in society, including the elderly, will be most affected by the changes,' they added.

It's not all councils' fault. Bus operators, who mostly rely on subsidies to keep routes going, have been affected by a 20 percent cut in the Bus Service Operators’ Grant from Whitehall as well as receiving less support they from local authorities.

Louise Ellman, the committee chairman, was fiercely critical of the Coalition’s record on buses. 'The Government claims it wants to see better bus services with many more smart card – enabled journeys,' she said.

'Yet, following the Government’s Spending Review, we have seen a significant number of bus services withdrawn around the country and there is every indication that fares are set to rise well above the rate of inflation in some areas.'

'For the most part it is rural, evening and Sunday services that are most affected, although in some areas every scrap of funding has been withdrawn from subsidised bus services.'

To help fill the financial hole, MPs have suggested imposing a one-off charge for the bus pass which, giving the elderly and disabled free off-peak bus travel.

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