Cornwall Council has said it has been left with “no alternative” but to retender the county’s entire supported bus network.
The council said a significant reduction in government funding has led to the authority having to make changes. Cornwall Council’s portfolio holder for transportation and highways, Graeme Hicks, explained: “We appreciate the importance of the bus network to people in Cornwall and already spend £4.5m subsiding around 60% of bus routes, mainly services to rural areas and weekend and evening operation.
“We don’t want to reduce the level of reimbursement for the concessionary fares scheme, but the reduction in government funding leaves the council with no alternative.
“We have listened to the concerns of user groups, operators and councillors.”
A re-tendering exercise is to be held in November to procure a longterm supported bus network which is affordable to the council and is able to meet current transport needs as closely as possible.
A Cornwall Council spokesman said: “Longer contract periods will be offered, giving both bus operators and the Council the benefit of longer term financial planning,” and, he claimed, “bus users will benefit from increased stability to the new bus network.”
General secretary of Travel Watch South West, Gordon Edwards said changes were inevitable due to cuts. He said it was “realistic” to expect some services to cease operation.
Sheryl Murray, MP for South East Cornwall said it was ultimately “down to Cornwall Council to decide” on its subsidy levels.