A rallying call has been sounded for Shrewsbury residents to join a growing campaign to save nine of the town’s buses which could face the axe under government budget cuts.
Transition Town Shrewsbury has teamed up with voluntary environmental group Ludlow21 to urge Shropshire Council to think again about proposed cuts to bus service subsidies.
A public meeting is due to take place on March 19 in the Gateway Centre, Shrewsbury, at 2pm, where it is hoped a bus users group for the county will be formed.
Shropshire Council has drawn up a new draft bus strategy which will define the principles and priorities on which the local bus network will be provided over the next five years.
Alongside this, officials are also working on the new Local Transport Plan (LTP) for Shropshire which will set out the county’s transport objectives and priorities for the next 15 years. Under the proposals, the council is considering withdrawing subsidies for certain services including some Sunday and evening services – which has sparked alarm among campaigners.
Public consultation has begun and once reviewed the council will look to adopt the LTP and bus strategy in the late spring.
The council says the withdrawal of the funding could lead to the complete withdrawal of the services or specified journeys.
Paul Flinn, chair of Transition Town Shrewsbury’s Sustainable Transport Group, said: “The cuts will penalise the poor, the young, the infirm and vulnerable who won’t be able to do the 101 things that people travel to do, such as visit family or meet friends, or get to work, hospitals, or swimming, in the evening or on Sundays.”
Shrewsbury routes which currently run in the evenings and on Sundays and which could be affected include services 1, 8A, 20, and 25. Subsidies could also be removed from services 26, 511, 524, 540 and 576.
Portfolio holder for transport and IT services Councillor Martin Taylor-Smith said: “Shropshire Council is facing considerable financial pressures on its budget for subsidised local bus services and concessionary travel.
“We understand the importance of public transport and we will strive to protect these essential services.
“However, as some services are subsided up to £21 per passenger journey, we need to make tough decisions if we are to protect key bus services which are fit for Shropshire in the future.”
by Charlotte Hester