Volunteer drivers could man buses in North Yorkshire as part of transport cuts (From Gazette & Herald)
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Volunteer drivers could man buses in North Yorkshire as part of transport cuts
VOLUNTEER drivers could be sought to fill gaps in bus services under plans by cash-strapped North Yorkshire council chiefs to reduce the amount they spend on public transport by £1.1 million a year.
North Yorkshire County Council is laying the ground to save £66 million between 2015 and 2019 - on top of the £92 million savings it must already make - following the Government’s Comprehensive Spending Review, and proposed cuts include slicing bus subsidies despite the authority admitting they are a “lifeline” for many.
A consultation, running until November 25, has outlined plans for reducing the council’s annual £4.4 million expenditure on bus subsidies by a quarter.
The subsidy may be withdrawn from services which have three or less passengers or where it costs more than £6 per person, although consultation documents said: “It may be possible to improve performance and retain services if volunteer drivers are available”.
Some “town services” could also lose subsidies, although commercial bus firms may step into the breach and developers may be asked to contribute towards services when applying for projects.
Other proposals include reducing service frequencies and bringing them more in line with local demand, and only providing enough seats for pupils entitled to free travel under the council’s home-to-school transport policy.
The authority said it wants to ensure as many communities as possible have a “basic bus service” to their nearest market town and a minimum frequency of services is maintained.
It also said public transport and concessionary fares ranked highly in a previous consultation on where residents wanted to see savings made. “We know bus services are a lifeline for many people and not everybody has access to a car,” said Coun Chris Metcalfe, executive member for passenger transport.
“However, we have huge financial pressures and we have to reduce our expenditure across the board. We have produced some detailed information which identifies the potential impact of this proposal and hope people will make constructive comments, which we will take careful account of before making a final decision as to what action we take.”
Consultation details are at northyorks.gov.uk/busconsultation, by phoning 0845 8727374 or from county council libraries.
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