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Norfolk’s rural transport cuts revealed

Rural bus

Rural bus

Details of which routes and passengers could suffer from proposed cuts to Norfolk’s rural bus network have been revealed by transport chiefs.

Norfolk County Council has published a list of 17 services which it wants to scale back in order to reach a targeted saving of £500,000 from its rural transport budget for next year.

A consultation is now set to begin to discuss the proposals with affected communities.

Routes have been chosen after assessing factors including passenger numbers, car ownership levels, the importance of the route for work or education and the availability of alternative transport.

Graham Plant, cabinet member for planning and transportation, said: “We recognise the importance of rural buses to the communities they serve.

“The fact that only 17 services are directly affected is a testament to the amount of work that has gone into minimising the impact on passengers and communities. This has only been possible with the excellent support and cooperation we have received from bus operators.

“Any cut in service is bound to be bad news for some people, but we have done our best to choose routes and times where the journeys being lost are not critical. Of course there may be consequences we are unaware of, which is why it is so important that we hear from anyone directly affected by these proposals.”

Although most planned reductions are limited to Sundays and evenings, the proposals also include the removal of the £25,000 annual subsidy to the King’s Lynn Ferry, which runs between West Lynn and King’s Lynn.

Mr Plant said: “We don’t want the ferry to stop – we know it performs a useful service, not least as a park and ride, keeping cars out of King’s Lynn. But we also support a bus service that provides the same service for more people, and which is fully accessible. We cannot keep subsidising each ferry journey by around £1 per trip when that can only be at the expense of other vital rural bus services.

“We believe strongly that there is scope for the ferry to run on a more commercial basis. This may mean reduced crossings and higher fares, but it could still be an attractive choice given that there is no charge for parking at West Lynn.”

The council initially hoped to save £1m but, on September 12, cabinet members backed a reduction to £700,000 spread over two years, with £500,000 in 2012-13 and £200,000 in 2013-14.

Pressure on the county’s rural transport budget has intensified with a £4.5m shortfall in government funding for this year’s concessionary travel scheme, which prompted the launch of the council’s “Fair Fares” campaign on Monday.

The consultation on the proposed cuts will run until the end of November and will include an online form at www.norfolk.gov.uk and roadshows from 11am to 2pm at the following venues:

October 4, Cromer Bus Station; October 6, Great Yarmouth Market Place; October 12, The Forum, Norwich; October 18, Tuesday Market Place, King’s Lynn; October 19, South Norfolk House, Long Stratton.

Recommended changes to routes:

Simonds 1,2 and 118. Diss-Long Stratton-Norwich. No evening or Sunday service from Diss to Norwich. Fewer Sunday and evening (after 7pm) journeys from Long Stratton to Norwich.

Sanders 5. Holt-Cromer-Mundesley-North Walsham. Fewer Sunday journeys from October to May.

Sanders 5A. North Walsham-Coltishall-Spixworth-Norwich. Fewer Sunday journeys.

First 6,7. Belton and Bradwell-Great Yarmouth. Fewer evening (after 7pm) journeys.

Sanders 9, X8. Holt-Melton Constable-Fakenham-King’s Lynn. No winter Sunday services.

First 10B and Anglian 10B. Norwich-Lakenham-Tuckswood-Mulbarton. Fewer Sunday and evening (after 8pm) journeys.

First 14B. Norwich-Hethersett-Wymondham. Fewer Sunday and evening (after 8pm) journeys.

Sanders 44. Sheringham-Cromer-Aylsham-Norwich. Fewer Sunday and evening (after 7pm) journeys.

Anglian 121. Eaton Village-Norwich. No Sunday service.

Anglian 581. Beccles-Burgh St Peter-Great Yarmouth. Wheatacre, Burgh St Peter and Aldeby to be served by alternative pre-booked transport.

Anglian 587. Norwich-Stoke Holy Cross-Poringland. Fewer Sunday services.

Anglian 588. Halesworth-Bungay-Norwich. Fewer Sunday and evening (after 7.30pm) journeys.

Norfolk Green. King’s Lynn town services. Fewer late night (after 9pm) services.

Coasthopper. Hunstanton-Wells-Sheringham-Cromer. Fewer services from October to March.

King’s Lynn Ferry. West Lynn-King’s Lynn. Fewer crossings.

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