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Mansfield and Ashfield Chad

Gloria’s Chad column: Bus services need to be sustained

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Here is Gloria’s column from the Ashfield Chad on 28th February 2018:

I was saddened but not surprised to read a recent research project about the decline of bus coverage in Britain.

Problems with bus services is one of those things that rears its head regularly in Ashfield. I’ve raised the problems we face in Parliament several times.

It is usually, but not exclusively, residents living in the more rural parts of the constituency such as Selston, Underwood or Jacksdale, who get in touch when a bus timetable has been changed or a route is under threat.

Suddenly getting to and from Nottingham for work or social reasons or even popping across to a neighbouring town becomes so much more difficult without a car.

The data in the BBC research comes from the Department for Transport’s latest publications.

Among the statistics found in the report is a telling fact that in England, outside London, bus mileage has declined by 9.5 per cent since 2005/06.

It states that this fall has been driven by a decrease of 45.3 per cent in local authority-supported mileage, in particular in non-metropolitan areas, Nottinghamshire being one of these.

With such huge pressure on local authority budgets, it is hardly surprising that subsidising bus services is an area being hit by council cuts.

Car ownership, the rise of internet shopping and more emphasis on home-working may all affect bus passenger numbers, but my concern is how young people, the elderly and those who, like myself, don’t drive are affected by a reduction in buses.

Deregulation of bus services in the 1980s has meant that transport companies can run bus services for profit above people.

This means that routes that are not profitable are too often scrapped because the subsidies there once were are no longer available, leaving passengers stranded.

In 2016 in Nottinghamshire, 161,272 concessionary bus passes were held by older or disabled people.

Eighty-three per cent of older people eligible for a concessionary pass took one up and 11.55 million journeys (an average of 72 per pass) were made on concessionary travel passes in Nottinghamshire in 2015/16.

In an age plagued by loneliness, it is great to see that so many older people are getting out and about on public transport, but I do wonder whether areas such as rural Ashfield suffer from being more cut off from facilities than neighbouring towns.

I am interested in hearing from any constituents who find getting out and about or to where they need to be more difficult because of a bus that now runs less regularly or not at all.
Please email me at gloria.depiero.mp@parliament.uk with your experiences.

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