More than 20 bus services in Suffolk facing the axe including Diss, Eye and Laxfield
Twenty-three Suffolk bus services are under threat after the council has announced it is axing its subsidy to those routes in cost cutting measures.
Suffolk County Council introduced a new framework last month to assess how viable the 61 bus services it subsidises are, utilising passenger numbers and the cost of subsidies among other criteria.
It has now confirmed that the 23 services to score the lowest will have its subsidy pulled, which will save the cash-strapped council around £340,000.
These include Service 482 – Diss-Framlingham, Service 456 - Eye-Stowmarket and Service 532 – Laxfield-Beccles.
Talks with those bus operators are now underway to establish which ones can continue running their services commercially. Those conversations will continue until the end of July.
If the current operators cannot fund those routes, then a dialogue will begin with other operators, parish, town and district councils or find other means to help keep services running.
Mary Evans, Conservative cabinet member for highways, transport and rural issues, said: “We need to ensure we spend public money effectively. In reviewing these services against our new funding criteria we have had to make tough decisions.
“However the implementation of this new criteria has enabled these decisions to be made in a robust and transparent way and ensures we consider key measures before making tough calls.
“We are committed to working with bus operators and partners to explore other sources of funding to support these services once SCC funding ceases.
“We are also open to conversations with community groups and partners to see if local solutions can be developed.
“I recognise the importance of passenger transport and I remain committed to ensuring that Suffolk’s residents have access to it.
“For many people that may be a shock for their local bus service but we have got time to have that conversation.”
There are 211 services running in Suffolk of which 61 are subsidised.
Some of those services under threat include routes which have fewer than 10 passengers per day and some where the public subsidy costs more than £14 per single ticket.
It is hoped that the new solutions can begin from October this year.
Sarah Adams, leader of the Labour group at Suffolk County Council said: “Yet another cut. Yet another attack on rural communities. Yet another example of the Conservatives at Suffolk County Council knowing the price of everything and the value of nothing."
Caroline Page, transport spokeswoman for the Liberal Democrat, Green and Independent group, said: “The criteria for making the cuts may be new and fairer, but saying this does not obscure the problems these cuts will cause to rural bus users with few other options."
The full list of affected routes is listed on www.suffolkonboard.com.
The affected routes:
Service 90 – Ipswich-Hadleigh
Service 796 – Hadleigh-Manningtree Station
Service 202 – Ipswich-Shotley
Services M33 and M44 – Bury St Edmunds town circulars
Service 108 – Lowestoft-James Paget Hospital
Services 377 and 386 – Rattlesden-Bury St Edmunds (377) and Stowmarket-Bury St Edmunds (386)
Services 387 and 456 – Stowupland-Stowmarket (387) and Eye-Stowmarket (456)
Services 62 and 71 – Blaxhall-Wickham Market (62) and Sudbourne-Woodbridge (71)
Service 112 – Hadleigh-Sudbury
Service 532 – Laxfield-Beccles
Service 971 – Hadleigh-Colchester schools
Service 94A – Hadleigh-Ipswich
Service 87 – Stowmarket-Ipswich
Service 98 – Shotley Gate-Ipswich
Service 120 – Whatfield-Ipswich
Service 375 – Alpheton-Bury St Edmunds
Service 482 – Diss-Framlingham