School services and buses used by many elderly people in and around Market Rasen could be scrapped if councillors approve a proposal to cut £2 million from the county council’s transport subsidies budget.
Routes at risk include the 161 Dents service between Market Rasen and Scunthorpe, which runs on Thursdays, the number 10 Stagecoach bus between Wragby and Louth from Monday to Saturday and PC Coaches’ 23 service from Rasen to Lincoln at 1pm from Monday to Friday.
“Around 25 per cent of bus routes in Lincolnshire are subsidised, to help support rural communities, but we now have to review all of these routes as we simply can’t afford to do this at the same level.”LCC executive councillor for highways and transportation, Richard Davies
Subsidised school buses include the 53A between Lincoln and Market Rasen’s De Aston School, the 9904 from Market Rasen to Caistor, the 201 from Faldingworth to Welton and the 66 from Ludford to Binbrook.
But despite the proposed £2 million savings, Conservative-run Lincolnshire County Council insists there are ‘no proposals’ to cull its Call Connect service.
LCC executive councillor for highways and transportation, Richard Davies, said: “In light of severe reductions to our Government funding, we have to drastically reduce the amount of money we spend on all of our council services.
“Subsidising bus routes that commercial operators can’t viably run is not something we are required to do, however in the past where they have met the criteria we have.
“Around 25 per cent of bus routes in Lincolnshire are subsidised, to help support rural communities, but we now have to review all of these routes as we simply can’t afford to do this at the same level.
“The council will continue to provide school transport where we have a statutory duty to do so, but other school services will be included in our review.
“There are no proposals to reduce our highly successful Call Connect service and we hope that where bus operators withdraw routes, this will act as a safety net for people who rely on public transport.”
Lincolnshire County Council needs to save £170 million from its budget over the next four years.
It currently subsidises more than 160 rural bus services that are not financially viable.
The proposed £2 million cut will be put before councillors at a meeting in County Hall on February 19.
If approved officers will then consider which routes to stop supporting.
Lincolnshire County Council’s Conservative councillor for Market Rasen and the Wolds, Burt Keimach, said: “It’s always unfortunate when we have to make cuts.
“We don’t like doing it and we appreciate some people may be adversely affected but we have to look at the details regarding the disabled and very vulnerable people.
“It’s not a happy time to make budget cuts. It’s with great reluctance.”