Proposed cuts to subsidised bus routes in Kent have been drastically scaled back following talks with bus companies and the decision by KCC to reduce the required savings from £2.25 million to £455,000 in this coming financial year.
Following discussions with bus companies Stagecoach and Go Coach, proposals to move a small number of services from public subsidy to commercially-operated routes, are expected to go out to public consultation in April.
The changes are designed to protect school services and ensure communities currently served by a subsidised route will not lose out, while providing necessary budget savings.
Stagecoach has proposed changes to the following services in Thanet:
- 39: Sherwood Gardens loop, Dumpton and Nixon Avenue
- 42: Windermere Avenue/Rydal Avenue, Nethercourt
- 56: St Peter’s Road/Vicarage Street, St Peter’s and Stone Road/Lanthorne Road/Knights Avenue, Broadstairs
The areas already have similar existing commercial services and could be served by those with some slight network changes.
Cabinet Member for Highways, Mike Whiting, said: “I am grateful to both Stagecoach and Go Coach for these innovative proposals which will allow us to make the necessary savings to our budget this year.
“I was clear at the outset that any changes proposed would not affect school services or leave communities without a service, and I believe these proposals achieve that.”
Next month, the council will launch “The Big Conversation” to talk to communities about what they want from their public transport services and how they could be better organised to meet that need.
More than £40 million of bus-related business is commissioned by Kent County Council. KCC’s aim in holding the Big Conversation, is to maintain services, potentially improve rural access and deliver this at a lower cost.
The proposals are due to be discussed by the Environment and Transport Cabinet Committee on Tuesday, March 20.
Proposals were originally to cut funding for Socially Necessary Bus Services (SNBS) in a bid to save £4million.
Some 78 SNBS contracts looked likely to be axed, including the 41-42a Monkton to Ramsgate service. But, as part of the newly agreed budget KCC has reduced that cut to £0.45 million.