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We'll safeguard rural bus services, pledges county council
DORSET County Council has pledged to safeguard rural transport links, despite plans to reduce subsidised countryside bus routes next year.
Cabinet members approved proposals today to ensure no community that currently has a service will be left without one.
County Hall’s bus review was launched to save £850,000 from its £2.8 million bus subsidy expenditure by April, when local authorities will no longer receive government funding to support non-commercial bus routes.
The council insists that where subsidies will be withdrawn, it will invest in community transport such as dial-a-ride and neighbourhood car schemes.
A public consultation took place in the autumn, and the responses helped shape the final decision – which officials hope will help claw back £822,000 of the required savings.
Cllr Hilary Cox, county council cabinet member for the environment, said: “We have taken note of the 1,200 responses and listened to all the comments.
“For example, we have worked with several communities to ensure that they will continue to have a Saturday service, even though this meant – in some cases – we have to reduce services during the week.
“This review is not something we have undertaken lightly, and we fully understand that some bus services offer a lifeline to residents without transport of their own. Unlike many councils, we are still putting a substantial amount of money - £2m – into supporting local bus services.”
A council spokesman explained initial proposals were drawn up about the routes most likely affected following a survey of passenger numbers, which highlighted many routes were under used and did not provide value for money.
The spokesman said detailed negotiations with bus companies had already allowed the council to find savings of around £12,000.
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