Underthreat bus services could be saved for another year

Bus protesters outside County Hall, Preston, ahead of a budget meeting
Bus protesters outside County Hall, Preston, ahead of a budget meeting
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Lancashire’s subsidised bus services could be thrown a 12-month lifeline, despite the county council’s need to cut public spending.

County Coun John Fillis, the council’s cabinet member for highways and transport, is considering extending the council’s tendered public bus service contracts for a further 12 months – until March 31, 2018.

The council says this is “to allow more time to explore and evaluate potential alternative public transport solutions.”

The move would end uncertainty for residents across Lancashire about the future of many local bus services – at least for the next financial year

A new Assessment and Priority Policy for Public Transport is also being drawn up to guide future decisions.

A county council legal notice advises this will be used “to aid decision making on any future support and implementation of public transport in Lancashire.”

A decision is expected on December 8.

Coun Fillis said: “The county council is currently facing an unprecedented financial challenge which means that within a couple of years it is unclear how we will fund even statutory services, so we are having to take increasingly difficult decisions. However, I am aware of the importance of public transport, so I have asked officers to produce a revised Assessment and Priority Policy for Public Transport which should help the council to take a wider range of factors into account when making decisions about which services to support.”

He continued: “I have also asked officers to continue looking at alternative ways of delivering public transport in the county and I will consider whether to extend funding for the existing LCC tendered bus service for a further 12 months to allow that to happen.”