Almost a third of bus services in England could be axed within weeks if the government does not offer more emergency funding, including in parts of North Somerset.
Bus services were supported by grants during the Covid-19 pandemic when customers were advised to avoid unnecessary travel, but funding is in short supply, with passenger numbers still only about 70% of pre-pandemic levels.
The Confederation of Passenger Transport, which represents the industry, said it expected to have a £350m funding gap next year, with operators also facing higher costs, especially in staffing, where a driver shortage has led to large wage increases. The Government has only announced a six-month, £150m fund to support bus services, but are slow in implementing it that many services are at risk.
We've already seen First Bus cut routes in North Somerset and there is a real risk of more to come.
Liberal Democrat councillors are working hard to push for better bus services locally, including delivering an ambitious Bus Service Improvement Plan, lobbying government and highlighting the powers and funding needed to improve services.
Councillor Mike Bell, Liberal Democrat Deputy Leader of North Somerset Council, said: "A safe, reliable bus service is absolutely crucial for residents across North Somerset to access shops, services, employment or education. Government-imposed cuts to services would be a real blow.
"With passenger numbers still significantly below pre-pandemic levels, there remains a real risk to the viability of local services.
"Government must offer more support to bus services, give more time for bus passenger numbers to recover and keep the buses on the road. Failure to do so makes a mockery of the government's 'Bus Back Better' plan to improve public transport."
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