Vital bus services are under threat unless people speak out, a Fleet mother has warned.
Sarah Horton is concerned that very few people know about a cost-cutting consultation currently being carried out by Hampshire County Council.
The council needs to cut between £1.25million and £1.5million from its current £5.7million spending on public and community transport by 2015/16.
Under proposals by the council, Sunday and evening services after 7pm could be reduced or cease altogether while other services may run less frequently.
The council’s county-wide review of subsidised bus and community transport services ends on May 31.
In Rushmoor and Hart, these are the Fleet Buzz services in Fleet and Farnborough, and Stagecoach bus services stopping in areas such as Aldershot, Frimley, Camberley, Ash Vale and Hartley Wintney.
Other money-saving options being considered are reducing the amount of printed publicity in favour of online information or running community transport services and ‘taxishares’, whereby passengers book their journey in advance and travel by taxi rather than bus.
A further option could result in older persons’ bus passes not being accepted for some journeys.
Services under threat include the Number 72, which provides a vital service for both Court Moor and All Hallows schools as well as providing a route to Reading, and the Number 30, which is essential for those going to Frimley Park Hospital.
'Lack of publicity'
“One issue with the consultation is that it is getting service users to ‘compete’ against each other by asking them how they will be affected if there are cuts to the service,” said Mrs Horton.
“Of course, by doing this online it is cutting out the people who perhaps need it most due to disability, poverty or other factors.
“They are the demographic least likely to be online and therefore they appear to have no individual voice in this consultation. They may well not even know that the consultation even exists and may well find themselves without a bus service because nobody spoke up for them.”
Mrs Horton is also worried about a lack of publicity about the consultation and said Fleet is poorly served by buses and those currently available have limited operating hours.
“Because of this and because of perceived unreliability they are often under-utilised, although those that use them even on an occasional basis find them vital.
"To cut the services further would cut off the people who need them most. There is no room for further cuts.
“Hampshire County Council would be better served by helping investment in the bus services so that they became a desirable way to travel to encourage more people to use them rather than cutting the services to the point where nobody can use them.”