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Rural Services Network
BUDGET reductions have forced a review of local bus services in Leicestershire.
Leicestershire County Council is inviting residents to have their say on plans to save £750,000 over two years by replacing under-used bus services with more flexible transport.
Proposals include the wider use of demand responsive transport schemes, which enable customers to pre-book public transport in advance.
Lesley Pendleton, the council's cabinet member for transport, said: "The majority of the county's bus network – around 85% – is commercially operated.
"However, the council subsidises around 15% of services which do not make money at a cost of around £3m per year.
"Some of these services are under-used, and as a result heavily subsidised, with the worst-performing costing the authority £12 per passenger per journey to run."
The local authority therefore wanted to consider other ways of enabling residents who live in areas where bus usage is low to access essential services.
This could include the introduction of demand responsive transport, such as minibuses, taxis and community transport vehicles in rural areas and areas of low bus usage.
Consultation details can be accessed here.
Demand responsive transport aims to link residents to key local facilities such a nearby towns, shopping centres or health facilities.
Services need to be pre-booked (at least the day before) and the cost would be equivalent of the normal commercial bus service fare.
Some 30 such schemes were already running in Leicestershire and had met a good response from the residents using them.
Councillor Pendleton added: "We hope people will take the time to take part in our consultation and have their say on our proposals."
The proposals include replacing nine bus services with demand responsive transport schemes and reducing the frequency of a further five services.
Some 95% of Leicestershire's residents live within 800m of an hourly bus service.
Less frequent or demand responsive transport is currently provided for the remaining 5%.
This costs the council £3m per year.
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