Cheshire East and Staffordshire bus routes facing £500k funds cut
ALMOST £500,000 will be saved under a council's plans to cut funding for 20 bus services.
Cheshire East Council spends £2.2 million on subsidising 88 bus services, but can no longer afford to spend so much.
Following a two-month consultation with passengers, the authority has drawn up a list of journeys it says are 'low priority' and should have funding cut.
The move, which will go ahead subject to cabinet approval, will save the council £464,207 each year.
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Buses which operate in Alsager, Newcastle, Leek, Crewe, Chesterton and Madeley are all affected.
Under the plans, journeys for which funding is to be cut include:
All Sunday and public holiday journeys between Crewe Bus Station and Leighton Hospital on the First 20 bus;
The 5.50am number 85 journey from Crewe to Newcastle and four evening return journeys from Monday to Saturday;
The Friday 127 service between Chesterton and Crewe.
A report to the council acknowledges that if the cuts go ahead the quality of services could be affected. It states: "While not a replacement for public transport, flexible transport services can meet some transport needs that otherwise would not be met.
"This is especially the case for residents who might have difficulty using public transport due to physical disability, do not have public transport available in the local area, or may need special assistance with occasional journeys."
The council received 1,610 questionnaires in the consultation, with 300 responses from Crewe, Sandbach and Alsager.
Services that receive funding from the council account for up to 15 per cent of all bus journeys in the borough. More than three-quarters of bus passengers travelled Monday to Friday off peak, while Saturday daytime was the second most frequently mentioned travel time, selected by 42 per cent of users. Sunday services were the least used.
Selwyn Brown, below left, chairman of North Staffordshire passenger group Aces, said: "I haven't seen any cuts which can't be justified given the financial constrains which councils are having to work under.
"What I am hearing from customers in Cheshire lately is that they are happy with the services they are getting, the buses are on time and the drivers are pleasant. Hopefully these cuts won't change that."
Ken Owen, aged 57, of Congleton, said: "The buses I use aren't affected so I've been quite fortunate.
"It's difficult for the council because they have to save money somehow but it sounds like they've researched the services and cut the ones which will affect the least amount of people."
John Reynolds, aged 38, of Alsager, said: "Losing the Leighton Hospital part of the 20 service would be bad news because I'd imagine a lot of people use that to visit patients."