Eleventh hour petition fails to halt cuts to dozens of Fens and Cambs bus services

A LAST minute petition with 1,000 signatures was one of the final acts of protestors as they tried, unsuccessfully, to stave off a swathe of rural bus service cuts.

The petition was handed to Cambridgeshire County Council just days ahead of Sunday when all subsidies services are cancelled.

The council has axed �2.7 million of subsidies to the county’s bus services and these take affect this week.

Councillor Mac McGuire, Cabinet member for highways and access, said today: “We don’t get money to subsidy these services and therefore we have to prioritise.

“We did a consultation at the end of last year and people who responded said they would rather see subsidised buses cut rather than see us reduce services to adults, young people or highways maintenance.”

He said alternatives involving community transport and such schemes as dial-a-ride were in the pipeline but these would take time to introduce.

“It is important we don’t keep talking about cutting routes but services,” he said. “If people used these more than those unprofitable ones might have survived.”

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Cllr McGuire said he “didn’t want to see people disadvantaged but �14-15 per passenger subsidy” in some instances was not a proper use of council taxpayers’ money.

Andy Campbell, managing director of Stagecoach and the county’s main bus operator, said his company had previously bid for a contract to run subsidised services but the contract- and the money- has now been withdrawn.

He said it was impossible to maintain the services without financial support.

“It’s like me going to a bus driver and saying ‘you have a contract of employment with me, I haven’t got the money to pay you but would you like to still come to work,’” he said.

Fares will also rise on Sunday and mainly, he said, because of fuel costs which have risen 10 per cent in a year.

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