Public to have their say on bus subsidy cuts
A FULL public consultation it being launched into Dorset County Council's proposals to reduce bus service subsidies which could result in the loss of numerous routes and journeys.
Following the release of information to town and parish councils about the suggested cuts, aimed at saving £85,000 a year, the county council is seeking the views of the public and service users on how the proposed changes would impact on them.
The authority is also asking for ideas and initiatives for community transport provision or other solutions to help develop support that does not require the provision of a bus.
Nic Nicol, chairman of the DT11 Transport Action Group for the area around Blandford, said: "Credit for the public consultation is due to the Blackmore Vale Magazine and Solent Radio, who rang DCC after my first interview to ask if they were going to make the document public as requested by the TAG. Their call did the trick."
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The county council say it is their intention to ensure that some of the savings from their "value for money" review of bus subsidy be set aside to fund transport solutions other than the continuation of heavily underused subsidised bus routes.
Rural services costing over £5 per passenger could be withdrawn, together with those carrying an average of less than seven passengers per journey, school services not carrying entitled children, and summer only tourist services.
There would be no subsidised evening or Saturday services unless they average 20 passengers per journey or more, and none on Sundays, Bank Holidays and school holidays. Specific subsidised journeys for early mornings and evening peaks could also be withdrawn.
Mr Nicol said: "The TAG will meet on 20th September to coordinate responses from parishes, community transport providers, councillors and others to DCC's proposals to cut bus services in the DT11 area.
We have no doubt that community based transport services will do what they can to fill any gaps.
"TAG's aim is to retain a minimum bus service in our villages to ensure those without other means of transport can get into town and back home at least once a week on a government subsidised bus service. Not all community transport services can accept bus passes, but some like Nordcat can, so travelling with them will continue to save pensioners money.
"DCC receives a subsidy payment from central government to enable it to subsidise uneconomic bus services in rural communities. It receives another payment for concessions in Dorset based on everyone in the county who is entitled to a concession, regardless of whether they use it.
"I have asked the county council how much these payments are now, and how much they are to be cut."
The closing date for feedback is 24th September, and it can be given by letter stating which bus service is being commented on to Dorset Passenger Transport, Dorset County Council, County Hall, Dorchester, DT1 1XJ, or by going online at www.dorsetforyou.com/media/swf/2/s/bus_services.htm
Results from the consultation will be presented to the County Council Cabinet meeting on 2nd October when the final decision will be made.