13 Jul 2010

Massive threat to buses

I was one year old when the Beeching Report in 1962 came out - it is now infamous for its cuts to rail services. Today we are threatened with another ‘Beeching Axe’, this time regarding bus services.

Responsible for 5 billion passenger journeys annually, buses are essential for tackling congestion in our towns and cities, reducing carbon emissions, making us less car dependent and providing a lifeline for access to rural areas. And buses are excellent value for money: the Government’s own report found that every £1 invested returns between £3 and £5 in wider benefits to the community.

One of the casualties of the spending cuts might be the Bus Services Operator Grant (BSOG). If this support is withdrawn it could lead to substantial fare increases, service reductions and job losses. This would be madness at a time of climate change, peak oil, rising fuel prices and recession.....this would have a massive impact on poorer people and rural areas like Stroud. Indeed it is already being reported that bus fares would rise by 10% overnight, with a similar 10% cut in commercial bus services. The cuts would be most acute in rural areas and on lower-used evening and weekend services. Thousands of job s are threatened.

See more re the campaign here.

Join me in writing to your MP with help from the Campaign for Better Transport website here. Below is my letter:

Dear Neil,

You will be aware that the Government is considering the future of the Bus Service Operators Grant - the only direct national funding for buses. If the grant is scrapped, the result could be Beeching-style cuts to bus services. Fares would rise, jobs would be lost and the environment would suffer.

Please sign the parliamentary petition EDM 402 calling for the Bus Service Operators Grant to be protected.

Buses provide a staggering 5 billion low-carbon passenger journeys a year. They are most heavily used by the lowest income groups and those with disabilities! In my work for a local charity I know of many service users who are very concerned by any fare rises or cuts to services.

The Government's own studies have found that for every £1 invested in the Bus Service Operator's Grant, we get a return of between £3 and £5 through wider benefits. Withdrawal of the grants would likely mean fare hikes of 10% immediately, and a 10% drop in passenger numbers - and poorest folk will be hit hardest.

Any savings from such cuts would likely be eaten up by increases in the welfare budget through higher unemployment. Thousands of jobs in the bus industry could be lost, and others would find it hard to travel to work.

Please show your support for the BSOG. I look forward to hearing from you,

Yours sincerely, Philip Booth

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