End of the road for hospital bus routeBy Tim Tonkin
July 21, 2011
A BUS service, which ferries people paying evening visits to patients at Frimley Park Hospital, is among those set to be axed.
The numbers two and three services between Farnborough and Camberley and Aldershot, Camberley and Yateley, will no longer journey to the hospital on weekday evenings due to a lack of funding.
The proposed changes are likely to be approved at a meeting of the council’s environment and transport committee on Wednesday.
The revisions are the outcome of weeks of public consultation over which routes and services should be dropped and which should be spared.
A range of bus routes across the Blackwater Valley are set to be axed as Hamp-shire County Council attempts to deal with dramatic cuts to its transport budget.
The number 10 Stagecoach service from Basingstoke will no longer call at Camberley and will instead switch to the number seven service between Basingstoke and Odiham after council subsidies supporting parts of the route were withdrawn.
People using the 56 service between Aldershot and Farnborough, which provided a one trip each way service to Farnborough Sixth Form College, will also lose out with this route set to be withdrawn from the end of the current term.
Saturday services on the number 70 service between Aldershot, Fleet and Elvetham Heath will also be culled, with Hampshire claiming it would have cost £7.86 per passenger trip to maintain the service.
Hampshire County councillor Adrian Collett (Lib Dem) spoke of his dismay at the proposed reductions in services while addressing a meeting at Yateley Town Council on Monday.
He voiced concern over the impact a loss of subsidy would have to the number three if it were not replaced with a commercial service.
He said: “It is a big step backward to be losing that service.”
The announcement comes as Hampshire looks to deal with a £1.1 million reduction in its 2011-12 bus subsidy budget, and a £544,000 fall in the money received from central government towards rural bus subsidies.
Although only around 10% of bus services in Hampshire are subsidised by the council, use of buses are now at a 20-year high.
Councillors say they have tried to heed public opinion expressed through the bus services review consultation.
Mel Kendal, executive member for environment and transport at Hampshire County Council, said: “In the past we were able to subsidise bus journeys on lesser-used routes to stimulate demand until a service was completely viable, or to meet particular social needs but, in this financial climate, it looks like these days are gone.
“Difficult decisions on how far local authorities financially support bus travel are having to be made all over the country, and unfortunately Hampshire is no different.”