Wiltshire bus campaign hopes to avert council cuts

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image captionThere are no commercially viable bus services in Malmesbury

Proposals by Wiltshire Council to reduce bus service subsidies are being challenged by a bus passenger group from Melksham.

Option 24 7 is calling for a review of the whole bus network in the county to make services more appealing.

Campaigner Graham Ellis said: "If we have three more people paying for each bus journey then that removes the need for a subsidy completely."

Wiltshire Council has said its consultation is seeking people's views.

'Better decisions'

Cabinet member for transport, Conservative Philip Whitehead said: "We're giving options of what changes there could be - we could stop subsidising the evening services, we could stop subsidising weekend services or Sunday services.

"But what we want to find out is how people will be impacted... that's what need back so we can make better decisions."

The total transport budget is £25m a year, but most of this is spent on school transport, so public bus services are most likely to bear the brunt of the cuts.

Out of the 276 bus routes in Wiltshire, half the total receive a subsidy to help keep the service running.

'Beeching cuts'

In Malmesbury there are no commercially viable buses and the same applies for the routes between Devizes and Salisbury.

Mr Ellis described the planned cuts as similar to the Beeching cuts of the 1960s were hundreds of railway branch lines were removed.

He said: "We're talking about two and half million journeys a year (in Wiltshire).

"Let's work it out as we have done with the trains and with some of the other services and get it on the increase."

Earlier this week, the council also confirmed it would be cutting its Hopper service later in the year.

Wiltshire Council's bus consultation runs until April.

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