Supported bus services cut to meet council budget pressures

A number of poorly performing council-supported bus services around Aberdeenshire will be withdrawn or reduced from April due to budget pressures within the transportation service.

The money available for supported services is expected to be reduced by around £560,000 when Aberdeenshire Council sets its budget in February.

To stay within budget for 2019/20, the council's Transportation service is reducing those supported bus routes and services which provide least value for money.

The changes will take place from Monday, April 15 and will affect supported local bus services and one Dial a Bus service.

The usage of each service, primary trip purpose and average subsidy per passenger, which in some cases amounts to over £20 per passenger journey, were considered in the overall assessment.

However, factors within the catchment area of each service were also taken into account, such as the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation (SIMD) ranking, car ownership levels, and the percentage of population with restricted Mobility.

There will be a short consultation period prior to implementation of the changes.

Where issues are raised which can be accommodated, the council will see if any revision to the proposals is possible, bearing in mind the pressing need to make financial savings.

Aberdeenshire Council’s Head of Transportation, Ewan Wallace, said: “We have tried to minimise the potential negative impacts for individuals and communities where possible, but would encourage anyone who feels they would be unduly affected to get in touch.

“We realise this may have a detrimental effect on passengers as well as some operators, but the council and communities will continue to have difficult decisions to make on the provision of local services into the future.

“These routes have been chosen primarily because they are not being used as well as would be expected, to justify the money spent by the council to support them.

“In due course we will conduct a review of the way the council supports all bus services across Aberdeenshire, to ensure we are using the available money in the most effective way possible.”

The changes are happening quickly as any delay in their implementation will lead to a requirement for even greater service reductions to meet budget constraints.

Anyone who feels they would be significantly disadvantaged by any of the proposed changes is encouraged to seek assistance where possible from the council’s transportation team. They can be contacted at: public.transport@aberdeenshire.gov.uk

You can see in detail which services/routes will be affected by the changes on the council’s website: http://bit.ly/2MMNiTi 

A wider in-depth review of council-supported bus services is expected to take place over the coming year with the intention of addressing the declining use of bus services across the network and to create a more sustainable bus network in the medium to longer term.