A public transport watchdog has expressed its ‘serious concerns’ about the reduction of a bus service.
Lancashire County Council is proposing to reduce the regularity of the No. 10 service from Clitheroe to Slaidburn from nine return journeys six days per week, to three return journeys on Tuesdays and Saturdays.
The council subsidises the service, which costs the authority £265,000 per year. On average, it carries only four passengers per journey and the income generated by the service covers eight per cent of the operating costs.
But in a letter to Tim Gornall, the council’s bus and supported transport manager, John Moorhouse, secretary of TravelWatch NorthWest, said: “It is fully accepted this particular service is a high cost operation, requiring subsidy from the county council, but it is generally understood that, for rural communities to remain sustainable, e.g. by offering a range of public services to all segments of the rural population, the cost of such provision will be necessarily much higher than it is to service those living in heavily built up areas.
“It is unreasonable to deprive rural residents of vital services on the assumption that somehow they will cope without them.”
A consultation on the proposals ended on Friday.
Tony Moreton, Lancashire County Council’s assistant director for transport, said: “With continued financial pressure, it is difficult for the county council to continue to subsidise bus routes with very low passenger numbers in this way.
“Due to the very low passenger numbers we’re looking to revise the timetable. Most people use the service on Tuesdays and Saturdays, which are market days, and we want to try and maintain the link between Clitheroe and Settle, and the villages in between, by maintaining a service on these days.
“Comments will be shared with the cabinet member for highways and transport before a decision is taken.”