Bus grant cuts could affect area’s services

A BUS operator from Boston has hit out at cuts to Government grants, which it says is leaving it with a fight to protect rural services in the area.

Brylaine Travel said the 20 per cent reduction in the Bus Service Operators Grant – from the Department of Transport (DfT) – could mean a loss of £50-£75,000.

The change, which will come into effect next April, may lead to the company cutting the frequency of some of its bus services as it manages it finances.

Malcolm Wheatley, manager of the London Road company, said: "These cuts, in addition to the rise in fuel prices, which are consistently high, is placing a strain on all services.”

He said the operator is now looking at changing some of the services it offers – including cutting the frequency of some of its more regular services to save other more marginal ones that serve isolated villages.

He said, since the announcement of cuts in the department’s spending review in 2010, Lincolnshire County Council (LCC) has supported bus operators in their bid to keep services on the roads.

Head of transportation at LCC Chris Briggs, said: “It will undoubtedly have a big impact on rural bus operators, including the possibility of fare increases, or reduced services.

“We will do all we can to help, but with our own funding shortfall, unfortunately we cannot make up the gap in government funding and replace the money that is being lost."

The DfT’s local and regional transport minister Norman Baker said the Government accepted that the overall funding settlement for local authorities was challenging.

He added: “It’s good to see some councils are approaching this imaginatively, finding savings in procurement and back room staff, rather than just reaching for the axe and cutting front line services.”