Rural bus services in Devon are 'under threat'

Rural bus services could be lost because decision-makers in London do not understand country life, the leader of Devon County Council has said.

John Hart said the government's planned reduction in bus subsidies threatened routes.

He said the Conservative-run council was trying to highlight the issue to the region's MPs.

The government said it was investing £10m in rural community transport nationally.

Mr Hart told BBC Radio Devon: "London doesn't always realise what rural living is about.

"Civil servants draw up some of this stuff, they don't see the end product."

'Cut routes'

Devon County Council has cut £1.3m from its bus budget in the wake of government spending cuts.

The government is also cutting the Bus Service Operators' Grant by 20% from April next year.

Mr Hart said: "Some bus companies will not be able to afford to run the buses.

"The local authority will not be able to continue subsidising bus routes with the kind of money that we're talking about."

Neil Romig, from Country Bus, said he was worried about the grant cut.

Mr Romig said: "We either cut bus routes that aren't making sufficient money or we increase fares to a level that makes the bus service a profitable thing for us.

"On a rural route it would become impractical.

"Nobody would want to pay the fare that we would have to charge."

Local and regional transport minister Norman Baker said: "We have protected the concessionary travel scheme in full and provided £10 million of extra funding for community transport in rural areas.

"The government accepts that the overall funding settlement for local authorities is challenging."

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