Highways chief explains why St Albans bus cuts are needed

PUBLISHED: 15:01 12 December 2014

The 653 bus service in St Albans

The 653 bus service in St Albans

Archant

A defence of proposed changes to bus services has come from the county councillor tasked with explaining why they are necessary.

Cllr Terry Douris, the county council’s cabinet member for highways, stressed no cutbacks have been agreed but only that there should be further consultation.

And he has stressed that the proposals only apply to county council-subsidised bus services on routes which are not commercially viable and if they were to go ahead, it would only affect two per cent of all the passenger journeys in Herts.

Earlier this year the county council went out to consultation on proposed bus cuts which would affect up to 39 services including five in the St Albans district - the 602, 653, S1, S4 and W1.

They were proposing to stop services on those routes from 6.30pm on weekdays with Sunday services axed completely.

The proposals generated 4,500-plus countywide responses, only 30 of which backed the proposed changes. The objections included a 500-signature petition in opposition from the New Green Estate in St Albans.

Last month a county council panel recommended keeping services running until 7.30pm Monday to Saturday and exempting Sunday services serving hospitals from any cuts.

Cllr Douris stressed that councillors had listened to feedback from the first consultation but said that like all local authorities, the county council was ‘facing an unprecedented financial situation’ which had seen it reduce its budget by £147 million over the last four years with a similar amount required to be saved in the next four years.

He said that if approved the new proposal would save around £1.7 million from the current budget but affect fewer passengers than the original proposals.

Cllr Douris added: “The proposals in this consultation, if enacted, will only affect two per cent of all the passenger journeys running in Hertfordshire; the other 98 per cent of the 35 million annual passenger journeys are unaffected and this includes all the commercial services.”

Cabinet will consider the panel’s proposals at its meeting on Monday and if agreed, they will go, out to consultation from January with findings due to be reported back next May.

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