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Local Bus Services in Torbay

Volume 629: debated on Monday 9 October 2017

The petition of users of the No.65 bus service in Torbay,

Declares that the cancellation of the number 65 bus service between The Willows to Torquay via Hele, Babbacombe, Quinta, Ellacombe and St Marychurch will have a detrimental impact on local residents, in particular, elderly residents.

The petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges Torbay Council to commit to providing a similar service to the previous No. 65 service for the sake of the local residents as soon as possible

And the petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Kevin Foster, Official Report, 06 September 2017; Vol. 628, c. 275 .]

[P002052]

Observations from the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport (Jesse Norman):

I recognise the importance of public transport for both the sustainability and independence of communities. Inadequate transport provision is a very real concern and can be a barrier to the prosperity of all.

Where there is not enough demand for a bus route to be commercially viable in its own right, all local authorities in England have powers to subsidise bus services which they consider socially necessary.

Decisions on subsidised bus services are a matter for individual English local authorities, in the light of their other spending priorities. We fully appreciate that local authorities are making difficult choices as a result of continuing financial pressures.

The majority of public funding for local bus services is via block grant provided to local authorities in England from the Department for Communities and Local Government. The Department for Transport also provides around £40 million of Bus Service Operators Grant funding directly to English local authorities to help deliver bus services, of which Torbay Council receives around £22,450. Councils can use this money to support bus services in whatever way they see fit.

The Bus Services Act 2017 introduced a number of new tools to help local authorities improve local bus services in their area. Through partnership arrangements we have enabled local authorities and bus operators to work more constructively together to provide better services for passengers.

I strongly encourage local authorities and bus operators to work together, in consultation with local residents and businesses, to identify local transport solutions that meet the economic and environmental challenges faced in the area and deliver the greatest benefits for the community.