Another chance to have your say on bus service cuts in St Albans
- Credit: Archant
Fresh consultation has been launched this week into an amended raft of measures to save money on the county’s subsidised bus services.
It follows an outcry over last year’s proposal to axe county council-subsidised journeys after 6.30pm from Monday to Saturday and all day Sunday in a bid to economise on the cost of bus services.
Among the 4,500 countywide responses to the consultation, only 30 were in support.
The new proposals would see services operating until 7.30pm from Monday to Saturday with Sunday travel still axed except for routes going directly to hospitals which would run until 7.30pm.
The county council is also proposing to modify its value for money criteria and amend its overall bus strategy.
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It subsidises around 11 per cent of all buses running in Herts including several that run through the St Albans district. Commercial services are not affected by the consultation.
Behind the proposals is the county council’s need to save £147 million in the next four years - the same sum by which it has reduced its budget in the past four years.
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If approved, the new proposition would save approximately £1.471 million in a full year from the current base budget of £4.212 million but affect fewer passengers than the original proposals - 760,000 passenger journeys a year as opposed to 809,000.
Terry Douris, cabinet member for highways, said: “We are committed to engaging with as many residents and stakeholders as possible.
“We have also listened to residents’ comments about the amount of money we give to individual passenger journeys and are seeking to establish a clear, value for money approach by setting a limit on the amount of subsidy we provide to individual journeys.”
Lib Dems have condemned the latest consultation. St Albans county councillor Sandy Walkington said: “They got the wrong answer first time round when local residents roundly rejected the proposals so they are trying to batter us into submission,”
He maintained that his party had already shown that all the required initial savings had been made and there should be a breathing space for a proper review of all services with the operators.
Consultation closes on April 10, and can be found at www.hertsdirect.org/busconsult or call 0300 123 4036 for a paper copy (this is not the number which appeared in this week’s Herts Advertiser - that was incorrectly provided by the county council).
The findings of the consultation will be reported to a panel in May with a decision made by cabinet in the same month. Any changes will take effect from September 2015.