Labour releases bus cut figures

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Party claims that funding for bus services is £139m lower than 2010, with a supported mileage drop of 17% since 2011

Labour has said that more than 30m miles of bus journeys have been cut because of squeezed council budgets, The Guardian reported.

The party said the number of miles of bus services funded by local authorities has fallen 17% from 2011. Overall, the length of bus services axed equate to travelling all the way around the world.

Michael Dugher, the Shadow Transport Secretary, said ‘vital rural routes’ subsidised by local authorities have been the ‘first to suffer’ because of lower government funding.

He said bus services in England supported by public money have lost £139m in funding compared with 2010, and net government support per passenger journey has dropped from 53p in that year to 48p last year.

“Local bus services are the lifelines of our cities, towns and villages, getting people to work and keeping communities alive,” Dugher said. “Under this government, local authority-supported bus services, which keep vital rural routes going, have faced savage cuts. People are being left stranded by this government.”

Labour published the research as it launched a campaign to protect local bus services.

“The bus market is clearly broken and the way local services are provided is not fit for purpose,” Dugher said. “Labour would change that and hand cities and county regions greater control over local bus services. We will ensure people get the local transport system they need.”

A Department for Transport spokeswoman said: “We know that bus services are vital, including for many older and disabled people. That is why the government provides substantial funding, protected until 2015/16, to bus operators to help more services run and keep fare prices down. A further £1bn a year is provided for the free national bus pass.

“Decisions about bus services are best made locally in partnership between councils and the companies which run the buses.”