Bath MP Wera Hobhouse, West of England Combined authority Mayor Dan Norris, and B&NES Cabinet Member Cllr Sarah Warren have committed to redoubling their efforts to stop the cuts to buses in Bath imposed by the Government, following urgent discussions held last Friday
The meeting came after some of the planned cuts to bus services were mitigated - The number 8 and the number 178. Whilst this is good news, a warning was issued that the situation is dire.
All those attending the meeting agreed that bus services face a further cliff edge in April when the Government will pull its Bus Recovery Grant funding. Issues around the ongoing uncertainty were raised and an agreement was made to keep pressuring the Government to listen and act on the crisis they are causing.
Commenting after the meeting Wera Hobhouse MP said:
“I was pleased to discuss this issue with Dan and encouraged that we could discuss a joint approach. Make no mistake, the Government’s refusal to continue funding for bus services suffering because of the pandemic and its rejection of the passenger numbers here in Bath means local residents are missing out on vital transport links. There is a cliff edge approaching and the Government must step up and cover the shortfall.
“The Conservatives aren’t listening. The Conservatives have engineered the bus driver shortage which has made the problem worse. Now they are withdrawing already inadequate funding. It’s their fault and they need to step up to the plate to deal with their mess.”
Metro Mayor Dan Norris commented:
“We’re all agreed the government need to step up to the plate and fund local bus services properly. Covid has caused a significant drop in passenger numbers and so fare revenue as people take social distancing precautions and follow the government’s own health advice to work from home where possible. But that should come alongside extra funding to keep buses on the roads. The West of England Combined Authority, which I lead, is stepping in where we can to help retain bus services – but there isn’t a limitless pot of money and sadly we can’t help everywhere. Cross-party we know it’s only the government who can sort this mess out.”
Cllr Sarah Warren said:
“We have been working hard with the West of England Combined Authority and First Bus to minimise the impact of the proposed cuts to bus services. Local services are still struggling and we need this Government to open its eyes and listen to the concerns that we are raising. They must continue funding the Bus Recovery Grant or introduce a new funding scheme, to protect important bus services across the region.”