Submitted by SFM Newsroom on
Kent County Council (KCC) are proposing to make savings by reducing the money they spend on providing some bus services that private bus companies cannot afford to run, and which are no longer cost effective.
KCC say that they currently spend about £6m per year to contract services which are not profitable for bus companies but which the Council thinks are important. These are often services running in more rural areas, in the evenings and at weekends and includes the Kent Karrier (Dial-a-Ride) services. They say that they "have worked hard to protect this funding, but the financial pressures placed on our (KCC’s) budget mean that we are facing an intensely challenging period ahead, where tough decisions will need to be taken. The impact of this does unfortunately mean that the Council is having to consider savings across a whole range of services".
To meet the financial challenge being posed by this year’s budget, KCC’s Public Transport team have been asked to reduce planned spending on this funding by £2.2m and to achieve this reduction they would need to end 48 contracts with a total value of £3m, which would affect around 55 supported bus services across the county, from the summer of this year (2022).
Local routes, that could be affected here in Swale, include the 332 (Stockbury/Sittingbourne Schools), the 360 (Leysdown/Eastchurch/Minster/Sheerness), the Faversham/Teynham rural services 662, 664 and 666 and the Sittingbourne rural services 8, 9, 343, 344. 345 along with the Swale Kent Karrier services.
The KCC have issued a consultation document, which provides more information and details on the proposed changes to services, timetables for the journeys that are affected and a full list of all subsidised services via their website at: https://letstalk.kent.gov.uk/bus-funding-reductions and are asking for residents views up until Wednesday 20th April.
It's believed that the responses to the consultation will be analysed and presented in a consultation report that will be published and presented to all KCC Members of the Environment and Transport Cabinet Committee in May. Following the meeting, the KCC say that they will publish their decision.
This is a story that we will be closely following here at 106.9 SFM, so please listen out for the latest information and/or check this website for any updates.
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