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More Than 90% of Council-Run Bus Services Cut Across England

A comprehensive study conducted by the i newspaper has exposed a stark reality: over 90% of council-run bus services in England have been slashed since 2010. The impact of these cuts reverberates across communities, affecting millions of passengers who rely on buses for their daily commute, errands, and social activities.

The research reveals that a staggering 16 million miles of bus routes have disappeared from the map up to March 2023. These vanished routes are concentrated in the 10 worst-affected areas, with Cumbria and Hull topping the list. Residents in these regions have witnessed a dramatic decline in accessible public transportation, leaving them grappling with limited mobility options.

The i’s analysis highlights the severity of the situation in several cities and towns:

  1. Cumbria: A picturesque county known for its natural beauty, Cumbria has suffered immensely. Bus services have been decimated, impacting both rural and urban communities.
  2. Hull: The historic city of Hull faces a crisis, losing more than £131 million in funding since 2010. Mike Ross, the Liberal Democrat leader of Hull City Council, emphasises the urgency of addressing this issue.
  3. Stoke-on-Trent, Portsmouth, Southampton, Nottingham, Stockton-on-Tees, and Slough: These areas have experienced service cuts ranging from 95% to 98%. Residents are left with fewer options, leading to increased reliance on alternative modes of transport.

The north of England has borne the brunt of these cuts, witnessing a 32% reduction in services (including both council and commercial routes). In contrast, the average reduction across England stands at 22%. Dr. Tom Jarvis, principal researcher at Transport for the North (TfN), expressed his concern, labelling the figures “absolutely staggering.”

Dr. Jarvis further explains, “Local authority-supported services have pretty much disappeared since 2010. People are being left very constrained. They rely on others for lifts or resort to taxis when they can afford them.” The TfN survey paints a grim picture: individuals are sacrificing essentials like food and utilities to cover car expenses or are confined to their homes due to limited transportation options.

In response to this crisis, TfN recently unveiled a transport infrastructure blueprint. Key objectives include:

  1. Reducing Car Dependency: Efforts must be made to wean people off private cars and encourage public transport usage.
  2. Capacity Expansion: TfN aims to create the necessary capacity to accommodate increased patronage on public transport networks.
  3. Social Inclusion: The Strategic Transport Plan outlines a goal of reducing social exclusion by one million people by 2050.

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