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Review of subsidised bus services and the Deeside Shuttle

Published: 13/05/2015

A review of the Council’s bus subsidy service is due to take place, subject to Cabinet approval, to ensure that the County’s bus services remain sustainable, cost effective and meet the needs of local communities. The proposed review will be discussed at Cabinet on Tuesday (19 May). Flintshire County Council currently subsidises 30 bus routes that would not be available commercially, at a cost to the Council of around £1 million a year. The routes typically supported by the Council are rural, early morning, evening, Sunday, Bank Holiday and some school transport services, or for operating services via certain villages or housing estates. The Council also subsidises the work-based Deeside Shuttle bus service, which provides transport on demand to enable workers to access employment on the Deeside Industrial Park. The levels of subsidy for the Deeside Shuttle are high, at a cost of over £6 per passenger, which is not sustainable for the Council. Passenger numbers on the Deeside Shuttle service have increased significantly over the last few years, such that the Council considers that the service could become a scheduled service with a fixed timetable and route, instead of a pre-bookable flexible service. The Council will be engaging with commercial bus operators with a view to introducing and developing new commercial bus services into the Park before the current demand responsive service ends. The Council has good partnership arrangements with commercial bus operators, who provide good transport links between key towns and settlements. The Council will be working in partnership with these operators to encourage further commercial growth on these core routes; some support may also be provided where identified to ensure a regular and high quality service that links the key end destinations with various collection points along the route. Identifying the required level of service on each of the core routes will be the first element of the review, which will be carried out at a workshop with County Councillors and Town and Community Councils. Where subsidised bus services are either reduced or withdrawn, the Council proposes to work with Town and Community Councils to deliver local community based transport arrangements that are sustainable and meet the County Council’s priorities. Through the introduction of an Integrated Transport Unit (ITU), the Council will then be able to act as a central enabling service, providing support and advice to local community groups and organisations; bids will be made for central funding to develop community transport links and the infrastructure needed to support transport services. Councillor Bernie Attridge, Cabinet Member for Environment said: “This review has become necessary due to the unprecedented level of financial savings the Council is having to make. We will be working closely with local communities and partners to ensure that the level of financial support given is affordable and sustainable, while at the same time ensuring that we provide a modern and efficient service that best serves the interests of Flintshire and its residents.” If Cabinet approves the measures, the responsive element of the Deeside Shuttle Service will end on 31 August 2015. The results of the bus subsidy review will be presented to Cabinet in July 2015.