Councillor Rob Humby said: “With the growing pressures across public sector services and reduced Government funding, the County Council has had to make some difficult decisions about reducing costs to balance the budget. We’ve had to look at ways to reduce funding across our services to meet these challenges and review the level of support for public transport.”
The proposals under consideration, for saving £1.1 million, have been informed by an extensive county-wide consultation on public transport, held earlier this year, to which responses were received from almost 140 organisations and 4,400 individuals.
Councillor Humby continued: “The County Council has been working for some time now on how ways it could continue to support public transport with less resource. We’re committed to making bus travel in Hampshire more appealing. By working with the bus operators, we have already brought about improvements such as contactless payments, on-board wi-fi and audio next stop announcements. So far, this innovation has resulted in a twenty year high in bus use Hampshire, and, unlike other areas of the country, passenger numbers continue to rise.
“I understand how important public transport is to residents who have told us about their most important journeys and priorities. I will certainly be taking these views into account when examining the proposals. My aim is to make sure that every community in Hampshire which currently has a public transport link, retains that link, even if it means that some of the services would run less frequently.
“We’re fortunate to have an excellent working relationship with the bus operators who are playing their part in maintaining public transport provision, by agreeing to run some previously subsidised services on a commercial basis. Of course, they will only be able to do so if passenger numbers are sustained. Therefore, I would urge residents to use their local bus when they can, especially as these commercial services currently cover 87% of all bus journeys. Without doubt, this is the best model for sustaining public transport into the future.
As well as making operational changes to some subsidised bus services, the County Council’s savings proposals include re-tendering contracts to ensure best value for money for Hampshire’s council taxpayers, reducing financial support for ferry services and reducing the amount of printed bus information to make better use of electronic information.Read the full report