18 April 2011

Northamptonshire County Council is consulting with bus passengers over how public transport can be provided in the county with greatly reduced budgets.

The council has drawn up proposals of how traditional bus services, community transport and innovative demand response services could be combined to serve 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.

People have until May 27 to comment on the proposals and it is expected that the new transport systems would be introduced in September.

Cllr Heather Smith, county council cabinet member for highways, minerals and waste, 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.

“Now we want people to comment on these proposals so further tweaks can be made to make sure we’ve done the best job we can.”

The proposals include:

  • 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 six demand response systems in deep rural areas of the county:
    • CallConnect in north-east Northants – an expansion of this existing, successful scheme
    • Nene Valley
    • Corby rural
    • Welland Valley
    • Long Buckby and Daventry
    • South Northants

The council has written to borough, district, parish and town councils along with groups representing bus users and the elderly and disabled. A number of public engagement events are also being planned.

To have say on the future of public transport in Northamptonshire please go to www.northamptonshire.gov.uk/youchoose

People can also write to the council at: You Choose, Targeted Transport Passenger Measures, Northamptonshire County Council, Riverside House, Riverside Way, Bedford Road, Northampton, NN1 5NX.