Northamptonshire County Council has unveiled a new strategy on how public transport will be provided in the county with greatly reduced budgets.
The new approach combines traditional bus services, community transport and innovative demand response services to cater for the needs of the people of Northamptonshire.
The authority has examined every settlement in the county and used a number of criteria to assess what sort of transport would provide the best solution for a particular area.
Cllr Andre Gonzalez De Savage, county council cabinet member for infrastructure and public protection, said: “The county council has to save an enormous amount of money over the next four years, which has put tremendous pressure on us to examine how we run all of our services.
“There’s no doubt that the traditional way of providing public transport was becoming inefficient and an overhaul of the system was badly needed.
“When you look at the figures and the facts about how much some of these services were costing the tax payer it is clear that in the current climate the current situation just could not go on.
“What we are proposing here is significantly reducing this spend and I think we have come up with better, more cost effective ways of providing transport where there is a need.
“What we’ve come up with is a variety of solutions, as you’d expect when you have a diverse county with deep rural areas and large towns.”
The new strategy, which will be introduced on September 5, includes:
- Working with bus companies so that bus routes which have been marginally subsidised by the council could be tweaked to become fully commercial.
- Continuing to pay for some fixed routes which require only a small subsidy.
- Working with community transport operators so they can operate services under a section 22 permit, which would allow them to transport paying passengers and allow the county council to reimburse the operator for carrying passengers holding a concessionary pass.
- The introduction of five demand response systems in deep rural areas of the county As well as the existing CallConnect branded service in North East Northants, the new CountyConnect service will be launched in September across:
- Nene Valley, focused on Oundle, Thrapston and Raunds
- Welland Valley, focused on Market Harborough
- Long Buckby and Daventry
- South Northants, focused on Towcester and Brackley, including off-peak links to Banbury
The council consulted widely on the new proposals and wrote to borough, district, parish and town councils along with groups representing bus users and the elderly and disabled. A number of public engagement events were also held.