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Changes to local Bus services in Torbay

Volume 633: debated on Tuesday 12 December 2017

The petition of users of the No.32 bus service in Torbay,

Declares that the change of service for the number 32 bus service between St Marychurch–Torbay Hospital/The Willows 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 re-instating the service route of the No.32 service for the sake of the local residents as soon as possible.

And the petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Kevin Foster , Official Report, 22 November 2017; Vol. 631, c. 1146.]

[P002083]

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 ongoing 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. However, my Department 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 £24,000. Councils can use this money to support bus services in whatever way they see fit.

The Bus Services Act 2017 introduces 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 constructively 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 the right transport solutions that meet the economic and environmental challenges faced in the area and deliver the greatest benefits for the community.