Select Committee on Transport, Local Government and the Regions Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence

Memorandum by Harrogate District Community Transport Ltd (Bus 34)



  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 When the subsidies are withdrawn we will be left with nothing, as the commercial bus operators will withdraw the service.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?

Lyn Costelloe


April 2002

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