COUNCIL officials are pushing for £2 million cuts from North Yorkshire’s bus subsidies – almost double what was originally planned – to help balance the books at the authority.
The council’s executive is set to meet on Tuesday to make its final decision on bus subsidies, and is faced with a choice between a smaller £1.3 million cut which could save many routes, or the full £2 million scheme to help plug a hole in the council’s budget.
After initial plans to save £1.1 million, transport bosses now want to make the bigger cuts, despite impassioned campaigns from residents and community groups.
Their report stresses the wider budget pressures the county council is facing, and says the harsher bus subsidy cuts will help in the struggle to meet ends meet as central government grants are slashed.
Withdrawing the subsidy from town services and other poorly performing services, as well as some changes in school buses, would together save £1.3 million without touching the wider bus network, the report says, but it urges councillors to approve the deeper cuts.
It said: “It is essential that the council recognises that these proposals are part of a whole council approach and the council should consider the potential benefits of realising the full saving amount estimated at £2m a year.
“Further, the council will need to consider further reductions in expenditure on bus services from 2015 onwards, and this will be subject to further consultation in due course.”
A public consultation which ran before Christmas gave people chance to have their say on the proposals, and many older people responded, saying they would be happy to pay for their bus travel rather than relying on free passes, to help keep services running in their areas.
The report, to be considered on Tuesday, says the county council should continue lobbying central government about the financial strain free bus travel for older people places on their tranport services.
Members of the public can attend the meeting on Tuesday and make short statements to the executive committee.
Once agreed, any bus service cuts will come into force in April and May, while school bus changes – set to be decided on Tuesday – will be introduced in time for the next academic year in September.