What are we facing?
- Almost ALL Wiltshire evening, Sunday and Bank Holiday bus services set to disappear.
- Withdrawal of many rural bus services.
- Interurban and town bus services to be drastically reduced.
- Not enough capacity for community transport to plug gaps.
- "Nuclear" Option 6 could leave vast swathes of the county without bus services of ANY description.
- Council plans could bring local bus operators to the brink of collapse.
- There IS an alternative. - option 24/7
Wiltshire Council has launched a consultation on the future of the bus services that they currently support. Set against a backdrop of a big reduction in overall funding for council services, they have put forward a number of options aimed at saving money from the supported buses budget, and are asking for your view on these.
Wiltshire Council needs to save at least £2.5 million per annum from its supported buses budget, and Options 1-5 (completely withdrawing funding for evening, Sunday and Bank Holiday bus services, and drastically reducing it for strategic, rural and town bus services) combined would only generate slightly more than this in savings at around £2.8 million per annum.
Therefore, you should not treat the consultation as a choice between the options laid out in the questionnaire, as Wiltshire Council would have to implement Options 1-5 almost in full in order to achieve their £2.5 million savings target. There is no doubt that this would in turn lead to the complete withdrawal of almost ALL evening, Sunday and Bank Holiday bus services, and the withdrawal of many rural services, alongside the drastic reduction of interurban and town buses throughout Wiltshire.
The only alternative that Wiltshire Council have put forward is Option 6, which involves the complete withdrawal of ALL funding for subsidised bus services, whilst attempting to keep as many of the bus services that would disappear as a result running through encouraging community transport providers to plug the gaps.
Fortunately though, there IS an alternative. The TransWilts Community Interest Company, as part of their research work on devolution for Wiltshire and Swindon, have put forward a Bus Franchising proposal which will avoid the wide-ranging service cuts that would inevitably follow from adopting the consultation questionnaire options, whilst protecting and laying the foundations for the future improvement of the Wiltshire bus network. This proposal is called Option 24/7.
Read more, here...
The consultation form is available online at http://www.wiltshire.gov.uk/subsidised-bus-services-consultation.htm ... or if you want to read more before you complete it, please see our FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions).
Say 'NO' to Options 1 - 6; At Question 25, write "Option 24/7 preferred - www.option247.uk". We have until 4th April 2016.