Call to keep £7m rural bus lifeline on the road

Rural Fylde councillors today called for subsidies to continue despite taxpayers having to pay £7m a year to keep rural buses running across the county.

By Tim Gavell
Wednesday, 9th October 2013, 10:06 am
County Councillors Paul Hayhurst and (below) Paul Rigby say rural buses are vital.
County Councillors Paul Hayhurst and (below) Paul Rigby say rural buses are vital.

Lancashire County Council is spending the money subsidising private companies to keep 150 services on the road to many of the remote villages.

In some parts of the county the cost of subsidising services has rocketed.

A ticket for the Pendle Witch Hopper can cost as little as £1.50 for a trip through the villages of Lancashire’s witch country, but the journey costs taxpayers £23.59 for every passenger on board according to recent figures.

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Paul Rigby say rural buses are vital.

With councils being forced to make cut-backs as their central government grants are reduced, some rural routes could be under threat.

But rural councillors on the Fylde said they hoped the subsidies would continue.

County Coun Paul Hayhurst of Fylde West said without the cash help many rural services would not be viable. He said: “The council is looking to make £300m of cuts so everyone is going to be hit somehow but if subsidies are cut to rural services it would make some areas no-go areas for people apart from the very rich.

“Both Fylde and Wyre councils are looking to put affordable housing in some of the rural areas but these houses will not be affordable for many people without good public transport links.”

County Coun Paul Rigby of Fylde Rural South said: “Rural routes are very important especially to older people. Many in the country have lived there for years and their own children have moved away due to costs or to get jobs and they are left. Without these buses they would be isolated. They need these lifelines to get to their market towns or health centres.”

County Coun John Fillis, cabinet member for environment and transport said subsidies are a “last resort”.

“The vast majority of bus services across Lancashire are run solely on a commercial basis but subsidies have been established on a number of routes where there are concerns communities could become isolated without them,” he added.

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