Memorandum by Harrogate District Community
Transport Ltd (Bus 34)
THE BUS INDUSTRY
Rural bus subsidies have not enabled North Yorkshire
County Council to develop new bus and transport initiatives. It
has not been possible to invest this money into community transport
bus services. This would have provided core funding to support
and develop infrastructure, which would have meant an investment
for the future. It would have provided a base from which community
could develop and become sustainable. The current use of rural
bus subsidy very often provides more empty vehicles. This type
of inflexible public bus service on a designated route is not
the mode of public transport rural communities either want or
will use consistently. A small percentage of these extra services
will possibly have encouraged more passengers back to public transport.
But this enormous amount of subsidy does not justify the cost.
When the subsidies are withdrawn we will be left with nothing,
as the commercial bus operators will withdraw the service.
Rural bus challenge initiatives have been a
worthwhile investment in many instances. Unfortunately they must
be submitted via County Councils. If the County Council does not
have a strategy and does not have a development plan the bids
may not be co-ordinated and the opportunity, which this fund offers,
can be missed. Also potential worthwhile projects can be vulnerable
to the personnel or politics of the moment. I feel that the department
should monitor the bids more closely and ensure that bids are
not being placed without the appropriate consultation and planning.
2. The government policy of promoting Community
Transport and recognising the positive impact this could have
on reducing social exclusion is very welcome. Unfortunately it
is still very, if not almost impossible, for community transport
organisations, both rural and urban to access core funding in
order to establish the infrastructure required to develop. Rural
Transport Partnerships have enabled certain progress to be made
but in many areas they are seen as an excuse by statutory authorities
to avoid any investment. Community transport is seen as a cost
and no one wants this cost to come out of his or her budget. It
therefore is avoided, particularly in areas where social service
transport and passenger transport directorates are separate. Authorities
may claim to have a Local Transport Plan that involves developing
community and voluntary sector transport to serve the needs of
those who are socially excluded but when it comes to allocating
funds this is not the case.
I applaud the massive investment and the transport
policies of this Government. The problem is how does it get where
it is supposed to be?