LIFELINE rural bus services could be cut short so Herefordshire Council can save £1 million.
The council’s cabinet is today being asked to back the principle of slashing public transport service subsidies over the next two years.
Members will hear that any go-ahead will mean a “comprehensive review and replanning” of passenger transport services in the county.
A £1 million reduction in passenger transport subsidies is proposed in the council’s 2014/15 – 2015/16 budget plans.
The report on the proposal prepared for cabinet recognises the “lifeline” specific rural services, ranging from a couple of journeys a day to one bus a week, provide.
But value for money, expressed as the subsidy per passenger, is outlined as a key factor in determining service survival.
The report warns that withdrawal of some services is “likely to be necessary” to deliver the full savings requirement, with evening and Sunday services likely to be the hardest hit.
To keep routes running, the council expects much of community transport schemes.
Seven of them are currently supported at a total cost of £180,000 a year.
Supported local bus services and concessionary travel alone cost the council around £3 million a year as part of an overall £7.7 million transport and travel spend.
A key element of the council’s savings plans is to reduce passenger transport subsidies by £1 million between 2014/15 and 2015/16.
Should cabinet approve the next steps of the transport and travel review, details of options considered will be published and distributed with the aim of raising awareness and inviting feedback.
During April/May more detailed proposals for each service will be set out as well as the likely implications.
Specific communities and users affected would be consulted on the proposals and final plans will be presented to the cabinet member for a decision in June and implementation in September.
Councillor Graham Powell, of Herefordshire Council, said: “I anticipate that integration opportunities, service thinning and negotiation with operators will achieve over half of the required savings.
This will leave a “savings gap” that will have to be covered.
“While there may be further integration opportunities that as yet have not been identified, the achievement of these further savings is likely to involve, in some instances, the withdrawal of subsidies.”