The disappeared

24 August 2012

Local authorities are facing unpleasant choices. Faced with significant budget cuts, statutory responsibilities and many calls on their money all ‘non-essential’ spending is under great scrutiny. Supported, ‘tendered’ bus services are facing the same crunch as other areas. This local government support is important – it provides bus services where there is no commercial case to run them and helps keeps revenue generating services going.

Just what does happen to people whose bus service is radically reduced or actually stops altogether? We have just finished a piece of work finding out. Our desk research revealed very little work in this area. Some research was done by Mayer Hillman in the 1980s on the social impact of railway closures but little else.

So we spoke to around 350 passengers in four local authority areas: Derbyshire, Suffolk, Somerset and West Sussex. It was hard to find the people – telling in itself as they become more invisible, harder to research and track.

The results are very interesting – nothing earth shattering, just a change in choices that people can make, increased dependency on others and paying more. A number of small impacts that add up to a compelling picture of what happens.

We will publish this in September alongside our ‘Consultation Toolkit’ – a guide to best practice when consulting on changes to bus services. This followed our giving evidence to the Transport Select Committee and a recommendation from them.

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