Listen to passengers before making cuts, local authorities told

Transport Focus has called on local authorities to listen more to passengers when considering cuts to local bus services to ensure that any changes are made in a fair, consistent and rational way. In the light of significant cuts across the country, the 

passenger watchdog has updated its toolkit which it says is designed to help local authorities make difficult decisions about the future of local bus services. 

Transport Focus says that while there have been some advances in bus service consultations, there is a need for all local authorities to raise their standards to match those of the best performing local authorities.

“Passengers tell us that their main priority is for the bus to turn up on time – or at all,” says David Sidebottom, Transport Focus passenger director. “We know local authorities are facing difficult decisions and sometimes cuts are unavoidable. But keeping passengers and local communities informed and engaged throughout is vital – it can even help make changes that reduce the need for cuts.”

The updated toolkit follows a recommendation from the Transport Select Committee in its 2011 report ‘Bus services after the comprehensive spending review’.

Best practice authorities highlighted in the guide include Wiltshire, East Riding of Yorkshire, Derbyshire, East Sussex, Hertfordshire, Surrey and Worcestershire. The research provides examples of good practice including consulting at an early stage in the process, extensive publicity targeted at those affected and proper consideration of responses and modification of proposals to reflect respondents’ views.