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Thursday, 23 October 2014

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Axing subsidies for Cumbria bus services ‘terrible’ move

BUS services which carry out more than 45,000 passenger journeys in Cumbria every year are facing the axe.

Cumbria County Council is to pull the plug on subsidies for the X11, which runs between Barrow and Ulverston via the coast road, in October.

Financial help for the X12, which ferries people between Ulverston and Coniston six days a week carrying 23,643 passengers annually, will also be withdrawn.

The move is part of a withdrawal of subsidies for bus services by the authority as it scrambles to cull £80m of spending from its books in the next three years.

Councillor James Airey, leader of the opposition Tory group on the county council, labelled the slashing of bus services as “terrifying”.

He said: “These plans are like something hastily drawn up on the back of a fag packet.

“These are the services people in Barrow and Ulverston use to get to work every day, journeys that people in rural villages along each route need to access shops and other essentials.”

“People in our villages are getting stung once again. They are now to lose their bus services.

“They’ve already been told they are going to have to pay up to £1,400 a year to get 16 to 18-year-olds to further education and they’re going to find parking meters in town if they drive in. It’s just terrible.”

Cllr Airey confirmed he is in talks with parish councils along each route to try to find a way to keep the services live.

According to figures held by the county council, it spends £50,098, or £2.19 per average journey, subsidising the X11 annually.

The X12 costs council bosses £31,573 per year or £1.34 per average journey.

The total bill for bus service subsidies across the county topped £1.4m last year for more than one million passenger journeys.

A spokesman for the county council said: “As both services are subsidised, both were on the list of services that would be affected by the subsidies stopping and this was widely published on our website.

“We’re working with the operator of service 11 and we’re hopeful that some service can be maintained.”

Have your say

I strongly object to the withdrawal of the bus subsidy for the X12 bus service. This service brings shoppers and visitors into both Ulverston and Coniston (and the villages in between both towns). The economies of all areas along the entire route will be adversely affected and become impoverished. Shops will doubtless close.

I am disabled and rely on a good bus service to travel around. The X12 connects two very popular areas well served with shops, cafes and pubs. Without this service I will not be able to visit Coniston and use many of the facilities there.

Posted by Joyce Hughes on 10 September 2014 at 16:44

I use the X12 frequently to get to Torver and Coniston. What is happening to bus services across Cumbria reminds me of Dr Beeching and the drastic shrinkage in the rail network in the 1960s. Fifty years later many acknowledge that those cuts were far too draconian and short-sighted. If the Council proceed with the withdrawal of subsidies and bus services these measures will also be condemned, for similar reasons.

The road network cannot cope with the ever-increasing demands being placed upon it by motorists. Any savings made from the cancellation of subsidies are likely to be wiped out by the additional cost of repairing the roads.

The Council, the Lake District National Park Authority and Cumbria Tourism are all supposed to be encouraging motorists to desert their cars and use public transport instead, to reduce pollution and ease traffic congestion. This excellent aspiration has no credibility if the Council's cuts go ahead.

Taking the long view support for public transport should be enhanced, not reduced.

Posted by John Hughes on 10 September 2014 at 16:37

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