Bus services under threat from Labour's decisions

June 15, 2016 5:10 PM
By Greg Stone
Newcastle Liberal Democrat Opposition councillors are warning that subsidised bus services in Tyne and Wear are under threat of being axed by the North East Combined Authority's lead member for transport, Nick Forbes.
Nexus are currently carrying out a consultation on the public transport services it will provide in future but it does not specifically refer to the threat to subsidised services.
Opposition transport spokesman Cllr Greg Stone said:
"These cuts are not being imposed by central Government, which has protected bus support grant funding. These cuts are being introduced locally, and have been significantly worsened by Nexus blowing £2.6 million of its budget on the failed QCS plan. NECA's Labour run authorities have all reduced their Transport Levy contributions towards public transport in this year's budget.
This budget shortfall will put significant pressure on the network of secondary bus routes currently operated via Nexus subsidy. These services are not commercially profitable but play an important role in providing useful evening and weekend services, as well as local connectivity outside city centres. For example, the 553 service which provides important links between Gosforth and Wallsend via High Heaton, Walkergate, and Walker is used by people to commute to work at the Regent Centre and Freeman Hospital, and the 18 and 32 local shopper services are particularly valuable for older people who have no other transport options if they wish to visit local shopping centres and health facilities.
The Nexus consultation seeks to identify priorities for future public transport but it does not make it explicit that cuts to subsidised routes are planned. Its survey makes a brief reference to redirecting resources to protecting subsidised services and I would encourage people to support this option and make their voices heard in support of protecting these routes.
We call on NECA's transport lead Nick Forbes to publicly state how much he intends to reduce subsidised bus funding by, how many routes are under threat, and what steps he is taking to mitigate the impact of these projected cuts."