Starting on Monday 16 September, Essex County Council (ECC) is holding a twelve week formal public consultation which includes how it provides financial support to local bus services.
The local authority currently pays £7.9million for nearly 200 local bus services which generally run in the evenings, on Sundays or in rural locations.
The authority is keen to ensure the bus services it provides meet, as far as possible, the essential travel needs of Essex residents and also offer the best value for taxpayers. However, maintaining expenditure at this level in the current financial climate is unsustainable and the council is looking at where efficiency savings can be made.
The consultation is asking residents about their travel needs and what types of services are most important to them, but the consultation is not looking at individual bus services at this stage.
Essex County Councillor Rodney L Bass, Cabinet Member for Highways and Transportation, said: “We need to review the Bus Strategy to make sure that the bus services we provide meet the essential travel needs of residents, offer the best value for taxpayers and can be sustained.
“Given the challenging economic climate, we must be realistic and accept that it is likely that not all needs across the county can be met and that the funding available in the coming years will be reduced.
“However, the views the consultees provide will be carefully considered and reviewed alongside information we already hold such as passenger numbers and the journeys passengers undertake. We are seeking to engage as many people as possible in this consultation so that decisions are made fairly and informed by public opinion.”
The consultation, plus all accompanying literature and documentation, including a comprehensive list of the bus services paid for by ECC, will be available from Monday 16 September on www.essex.gov.uk/busreview
. The consultation will close on Monday 9 December. Copies of the consultation will also be available through libraries or by calling 0845 603 7631.
Please note, there will be further consultation and opportunities to comment on the draft bus strategy when it is completed. Once the new strategy has been finalised it there will be a series of area reviews across the County to allow services in each area to be looked at in the light of the new strategy. Any changes are intended to be implemented between September 2014 and September 2015.