Friday, 30 September 2011

Consultation on Rural Transport Changes

Yesterday (Thursday 29th) Norfolk County Council published proposed changes to rural transport services, aimed at saving £500,000 next year (2012-13), for consultation with passengers and local communities.

Pressure on the rural transport budget has become intense because of reductions in Government grant for public transport, and the Government's failure to fully fund the Concessionary Travel scheme, with a £4.5m shortfall this year (2011-12). Norfolk County Council this week (26 September) launched a 'Fair Fares' campaign to secure a better deal from the Government, and people being asked to comment on the reductions in services are also being invited to sign the Fair Fares petition.

The County Council has to cut £700,000 from its rural transport budget as the council looks for overall savings of nearly £75m over the next two years (2012-13 and 2013-14). £500,000 must be found from rural transport support in 2012-13, with the remaining £200,000 in 2013-14.

The council has been working closely with bus operators to minimise the impact of the £500,000 in savings needed next year. As a result of this work, significant savings have been possible without a direct effect on journeys, and almost all the service reductions are limited to Sundays and evenings. Altogether 143 financially supported services were investigated, with 126 unaffected.

The affected services spread across the county (details below) have been chosen after taking account of factors including passenger numbers, their income and car ownership levels, age range and social background. Other considerations include the importance of the route for work or education, the availability of alternative transport, and the possibility of the service being run commercially or at reduced subsidy.
Graham Plant, Cabinet member for planning and transportation said: "We recognise the importance of rural buses to the communities they serve, which is why we have scaled back the savings from £1m to £700,000 over two years, with £500,000 next year (2012-13).

Consultation roadshows have been organised to give people the chance to find out more and register their views. They will also be invited to support the Fair Fares concessionary travel funding campaign by signing the petition.

In the East Norfolk area roadshows will be held from 11am to 2pm as follows:

Tuesday 4 October - Cromer Bus Station

Thursday 6 October - Great Yarmouth Market Place

Wednesday 12 October - The Forum, Norwich

The consultation can be filled in online at http://www.norfolk.gov.uk/. Printed copies will be available in libraries. The consultation runs until the end of November. The County Council will then review its proposals before making final recommendations for inclusion in the 2012-13 budget.

Among the recommended changes to routes are:
  • Sanders 5. Holt-Cromer-Mundesley-North Walsham. Fewer Sunday journeys from October to May.
  • Sanders 5A. North Walsham-Coltishall-Spixworth-Norwich. Fewer Sunday journeys.
  • First 6,7. Belton and Bradwell-Great Yarmouth. Fewer evening (after 7pm) journeys.
  • Sanders 9, X8. Holt-Melton Constable-Fakenham-King's Lynn. No winter Sunday services.
  • Sanders 44. Sheringham-Cromer-Aylsham-Norwich. Fewer Sunday and evening (after 7pm) journeys.
  • Anglian 581. Beccles-Burgh St Peter-Great Yarmouth. Wheatacre, Burgh St Peter and Aldeby to be served by alternative pre-booked transport.
  • Anglian 588. Halesworth-Bungay-Norwich. Fewer Sunday and evening (after 7.30pm) journeys.
  • Coasthopper. Hunstanton-Wells-Sheringham-Cromer. Fewer services from October to March.

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