12 March 2019
Global warming is happening faster than thought and pollution from vehicles is at
dangerous levels in many places. Meanwhile loneliness and isolation are major
underlying causes of illness among older people especially – yet local bus services
are being slashed, thus encouraging additional car journeys and causing congestion
increases in towns like Stafford.
The Local Government Association has said that half of rural bus services could disappear. Hence we have the triple whammy of environmental disaster, increased pollution, and misery for lonely people.
Locally, as reported recently in the Newsletter, many rural services are being
withdrawn as a result of County Council cuts in subsidy. They may blame the
Government for cuts in funding to local authorities, but they are representing the
same political party. The Government says Austerity is over but they are still starving
local councils of funds.
The County Council is cutting the provision for bus pass holders to use the bus free
before 9.30 am. Yet for some rural travellers the only service in the early morning is
before that time.
When rail services were privatised, Government subsidy for rail services increased
substantially. More people are now travelling by train, though the level of subsidy
there is slowly being reduced. Why then can bus services not be given the same
level of subsidy – and why are local councils being forced to cut back on the existing
poor level of provision?
What we need is more investment in public transport to reduce the current
dependency on cars. A publicly owned bus service which used the profit from well-
used services to support those which are less popular would also help, perhaps by
extension of the West Midlands PTA into the surrounding areas including
Whatever the solution, the current situation is getting us nowhere.
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