Devon backs bus funding petition

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Paignton bus station. Devon County Council is backing ATCO’s petition
Paignton bus station. Devon County Council is backing ATCO’s petition

Devon County Council (DCC) has joined the national campaign calling for a fair funding settlement for the concessionary bus scheme.

The Fair Fares campaign was launched by Norfolk County Council, which is facing a £4.5 million shortfall in funding for the concessionary bus scheme.

The campaign’s online petition, launched by ATCO (the Association of Transport Co-Coordinators), states that while all councils support the principles of allowing eligible older to travel free on buses, it is resulting in cuts to other public transport, with the result other transport users are suffering.

DCC, which has been left with a £5m shortfall from the scheme, is also urging central government to look again at the proposal to slash BSOG next year, warning that rural bus services could be put at further risk by the moves.

Councillor Stuart Hughes, DCC cabinet member for highways and transportation, said: “We’re lending our full backing to this campaign and we’re pleased that MPs are debating this issue. We have faced additional pressure on all of our services since responsibility for the English national concessionary fare scheme fell to the County Council in April.

“While Devon is fully supportive of the concessionary bus scheme, Government funding left us with a massive shortfall, forcing additional pressure on all services supported by the County Council.”

DCC leader John Hart said: “We have very real concerns about the direct effect of the government Spending Review on local authorities’ funding for public transport. People who rely on buses are often those in most need, and the Government must continue to provide support to ensure that rural bus services can be maintained.”

To access the online petition, click here.