Cambridgeshire bus passenger numbers are falling
Fewer Cambridgeshire residents are choosing to use bus services, according to Department for Transport figures.
The data reveals a reduction in bus use in the county, a fall which the Labour Party has blamed on local authority budget cuts. The party has pledged that it would spend £1.3billion a year expanding bus services in England if it was in government.
The DfT data shows there were 19.9m bus passenger journeys in the county between April 2017 and March 2018 – 100,000 fewer than in the previous year. Over the same period central and local government spent £2.4million on local bus services – a 34 per cent decrease in eight years.
Labour plans to provide funding to cover subsidies which local councils pay to plug gaps in bus services, often in rural areas where running a route is less lucrative for companies.
Nearly half of all bus routes in England receive partial or complete subsidies from councils.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said bus services are a “lifeline” for many people. He added: “Cuts to services in the past decade have had disastrous consequences for our towns and city centres and for air pollution and the environment. What we’re doing is trying to help the whole community by ensuring there’s good public transport.”
Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority mayor James Palmer, who has power over bus services, said: “Any reduction in journeys is not good news, but it backs up the fact that change needs to happen to our bus network.
“While the Combined Authority and others have had to step in to keep certain services going, these sticking plasters are not sustainable. Our bus review, published in January, highlighted the opportunity we have to rethink buses for the 21st century, and inject some fresh strategic leadership across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough to make them a more attractive option for people.”
A DfT spokesman said it subsidises bus costs by about £250million a year and supports local authority spending.