Fears of future cuts in bus services were voiced today after figures revealed a dramatic drop in the number of people using the transport..
Fears of future cuts in bus services were voiced today after figures revealed a dramatic drop in the number of people using the transport.
Government statistics show passenger numbers for parts of Teesside were down by almost a quarter over a four year period.
The figures show the numbers were down by 23.9% in Redcar and Cleveland, from an average 41.9 journeys per person in 2009/10 to 31.9 in 2012/13.
Middlesbrough and Stockton also show reductions in use of about 11% over the same period with Middlesbrough falling from 75 journeys per person to 66.3 and Stockton from 53.7 to 47.8.
Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland MP Tom Blenkinsop said: “This drop in bus usage is worrying, as lower figures may trigger more service cuts.
“My suspicions are such a steep drop in Redcar and Cleveland is due to the sheer number of service and route changes that have been made by Arriva in recent years and the fact that they are, by far and away, the dominant provider of bus services within the borough.
“Constant changes confuse travellers and many will have switched to using cabs for one-off journeys as a result of uncertainty as to where buses go and altered timetables.”
Redcar and Cleveland councillor Barry Hunt, who helped organise residents’ protests at Skinningrove against timetable changes, said: “I’m not surprised people are not using the bus. They’ve cut services on arranged routes to make a profit and cut a lot of villages out of their routes.
“Buses are often late or don’t turn up and this affects people going to work and young people getting to school or college.”
Nick Knox, area MD for Arriva NE, said: “Bus services are vital to the economy of the region and, even during recession, Arriva has continued to invest heavily in new buses, improved reliability and staff training.
“The economic impact on both local and regional commerce does reflect the number of passenger journeys made. However, we’re now seeing passenger numbers stabilise and grow in many parts of Teesside and East Cleveland.”
Nicky Walker, Middlesbrough Council’s executive member for environment, said: “Factors have led to a fall in bus usage, not just in Middlesbrough but across the country.
“The Coalition Government has cut subsidies to bus companies and they’ve reduced services as a result. Funding to local authorities has also been cut, meaning we are able to support fewer routes.
“The tough economic climate continues to put household budgets under severe pressure and people are less likely to come into the town centre by bus to shop.”
Mike Smith, Stockton Council’s cabinet member for Transport, said: “Stockton’s benefiting from major investment aimed at making bus services more attractive to residents. A number of factors have an impact on bus usage including the economic climate and car ownership. The weather’s also a big factor, culminating in the wettest summer on record in 2012 and the coldest March in a long time.”
Full article at Gazette Live: