Bus fares could rise across North Yorkshire because of money-saving move (From Darlington and Stockton Times)
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Bus fares could rise across North Yorkshire because of money-saving move
BUS operators have warned fares could increase and bus routes lost across North Yorkshire as the county council seeks to save £1.4m and cut reimbursements for concessionary fares.
Councillors were told they had little choice as they were simply following new guidelines from the Department for Transport and the vast majority of other concessionary travel scheme operators, who are doing the same.
In 2011/2012 nearly £9m was spent across North Yorkshire on concessionary funding, subsidising nearly eight million passenger journeys.
Coun Chris Metcalfe, told members of North Yorkshire’s executive they had had face to face meetings with ten of the biggest tour operators across the county to discuss the reductions.
“They did cry foul and said it was very unfair on the public as they would have to put up bus fares and take services off,” said Coun Metcalfe.
But he said they believed the old system was giving them a form of subsidy and it was unlikely operators could challenge the moves.
He added: “I believe this is the right approach.
"There may be routes that could be taken off. If there were major implications particularly for more disadvantaged people we may have to look at other budget heads to put on some other form of service.
"I think we should agree this and see what comes out in the washing as regards to the reaction of bus operators."
Members were warned that concessionary travel is demand led and the amount saved could be affected by the actual numbers of journeys made if people used it more.
Coun Gareth Dadd said:”We will simply be following Department for Transport guidelines as other people are doing. I am told that is the cry from operators every time there is a change - maybe we should take that sort of cry with a slight pinch of salt.”
The budget cuts are part of the county council’s savings towards the £23m they need to axe from spending in the next two years after austerity measures imposed by the Government.